Posts by Yogi Marcia Beckford

A dog as a reminder of a conquered fear

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 By:
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…thinking about situations that bring up …fear

Let’s me tell you about an fear-filled situation.    Our lovable pet dog turned vicious one day and bit my sister and I when we were children.   The dog chased us around the house.  It was foaming at the mouth.  My sister and I  ran and screamed in fear.  Our little legs did not outrun the dog.  One by one the dog caught us  and bit us.  The fear, the bite, the rabid dog.

Bending the needle in fear

What happened next, were actions steeped in fear and justifiably so.  A bite from a rabid dog requires a series of rabies shot around the navel.  I remember that first visit for shots well.  Why?   Because my dear sister fought the providers  to avoid the injection.  Her struggles and the determination of the providers caused the needle to bend.  The needle bent in her stomach.  Everyone felt more fear.  My sister and I got our series of injections.

Why did that memory come up? I was thinking about situations  real or imagined that bring up a feeling of fear.

Of course every time I saw a dog after that experience, I held my breath and made decisions. The decision to stand my ground or to run in fear.  Or,  to pet or not to pet.  A decision to ignore the dog or to look directly at the dog. The decision that helped me the most was my decision was to breathe!

Just because you feel the fear doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  Do it afraid.~Joyce Meyer.

Pillow: a reminder of less fear

My two children are animal lovers and dog owners.  I’m glad that I didn’t waste any time passing down a fear of dogs.   The fear was short-lived and  did not become a phobia.  My dog’s name is Pillow.

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What was there to fear? With matted hair, filled with burrs.

Pillow walked into the school with matted hair.  Her coat filled with burrs.  She “peed” in the classroom. Not many wanted to touch her.  As soon as I saw her I knew she was the perfect dog.  Staff members helped to make that a reality by helping us avoid the ‘dog police’ when they came to pick her up.

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I was able to overcome a fear of dogs.

 

 

 

Some funny things about Pillow.  She pauses to stretch when called.  You have to wait for her to do the downward dog first.  She eats salads, cooked vegetables and nuts.  Pillow shows no fear near large dogs.

Pillow does show fear and may trembles if you blow in her face.  If you make weird noises. If you try to kiss her.  She has trained me to pet her when she nudges my hand.

Pillow is an important reminder of a time that I was able to overcome a fear.  This is important to me because of any current fears, imagined or real.

Compassion and Less fear

Try having compassion to reduce your fears.  Have compassion for yourself as a fearful person.  Try to have compassion for whatever you fear.

Increase your compassionate thoughts by using affirmations.  Watch videos and read uplifing books to change your fearful thoughts and feelings.   Exercise by walking or doing yoga.  See a counselor.

Get a dog to walk with, talk to and watch their silly antics.

“Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness?”~Jonathan Safran Foer

 

The Smell of Yoga

Posted on: January 5th, 2017 By:
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No one can argue with wanting a good smelling yoga area.

“You smell nice!” The words heard as I walked into a favorite class,  Yoga and Meditation.  A yogi to the right of me commented on the pleasant smell that came from my direction.  A compliment, well received.  The pleasant scent might have come from the use of an  essential oil.  Or,  the use of scented hand wipes provided at Whole Foods.

Yoga studios, at best, may smell of incense or the wood floor. That’s because yogis often, but not always, take steps before class to not smell.   Take a shower.  Wear clean clothing.  Use deodorant.  Avoid wearing strong-smelling perfumes.

Not long ago, I made an effort to keep the surrounding space smelling nice.  What effort did I take to keep a pleasant smelling space?  Well, one thing I did was to tighten my butt sphincter muscles to keep the fart(s) in.  A well-practiced skill learned as an elementary school teacher.  We hold our pee and farts.

 

SILENT OR LOUD

Is holding a fart a good practice?  Maybe yes or maybe no.  Few would even want to spend time discussing that point.  No one can argue, though, with wanting a non-offensive smelling yoga area.  No need to stress!  There are a few ways to maintain the good yoga studio smell.  Let’s talk about ways around the need to fart.

EATING!

Avoid eating one hour before class; two hours if your digestion is slow. If you have to eat before class, then eat what your body digests easily.  Eat non-gas producing foods.  You alone know what that means for your body.   But, if you don’t?  Google is your friend.

TOO LATE, YOU ATE!

There is always water at the table outside of most studio entrance door.  Use that as a nice excuse to go outside, to free your fart, to get some water, and then return to class.

PRIVACY!

Not enough privacy?  Then, the bathroom is convenient and offers more privacy.

RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

Not enough time?  Can’t hold it in?  Don’t want to disturb the flow of the class by leaving the room?  Too late, the pose is Downward Dog?   Or, Wide-Legged Forward Bend?  Happy Baby? Easy Pose? The fart is coming.  Just ‘release the kraken!’  Farting is a natural process.  Silent or loud, many fart in a class. All know about farts. Take care of yourself. No one will single you out.  They may laugh to themselves and may think “better you than me.”

PRACTICE!

Did you know that three are some, for medical reasons, bloating and/or gas, have an actual need to fart.  There are a few yoga asanas  that actually help you to release the wind.   Practice those and let your private studio space smell as it may.

Citizens shall be allowed to pass gas whenever necessary. –  Emperor Claudius

BREATH WORK

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Breathe in the sweet smell of nature.

This advice may not seem to add to the smell of yoga.   I have often said things that sound like farts and then comes regret. Regret breeds stress.   Whether your farts are verbal or actual,  the one activity  that always helps with the decision to not stress is breathing.  Breathing as if you’re in nature.

What ever you decide to do with your farts, focus on the breath.  You are in a yoga class where every, and I do mean every, teacher emphasizes breath work.  Every asana uses the  breath:  nose breathing or combination nose and open mouth; before, during and/or after.

Inhale – (Fill the chest cavity, the lungs, rib cage, and diaphragm)

Hold – Kumbhaka Pranayama (Breath Retention)

Exhale – (Empty the diaphragm, the  rib cage, the lungs, and chest cavity)

Love the smell of yoga!

Loving the self: Sharing with a friend

Posted on: December 23rd, 2016 By:
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 Sharing a meal with a new friend

Friendship is nothing more than sharing. Elie Wiesel

Friendship is nothing more than sharing. Elie Wiesel

Loving the self came with sharing a meal.  Sharing a meal with a stranger.  This happened at the tail end of  cooking and as I was serving the meal to my two children, Robert and Alycia. She knocked at my door selling insurance.  What stood out was the fact that she toted, Leona, her baby with her.  Buying insurance was not in my budget.  The budget included only health insurance for our family and car insurance.

Then she commented on the scent of the food.  I invited her to sit at the table.  We shared a meal and we have been friends ever since.  Her daughter is now 28.

 

 

I take time to love the me that invited a stranger for a meal.

sharing what we want to see

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…the type of bottle that invites you to save pennies…

It’s December and we have decided to meet for breakfast at Angie’s Mexican Restaurant.  You can pretty much get what you want to eat keeping in mind that it is a Mexican restaurant.

Walking after a meal aids digestion.   The neighborhood seemed to serve an invitation to walk with wider sidewalks.  We notice the condos and other changes.  Some call it gentrification others call it something else.

Treasure City Thrift Shop bustles with men and women rummaging through clothes, walking around touching, holding, assessing items.  Some children play with old toys.  The large bottle looked familiar.  You know the type of bottle that invites  you to save  pennies and other coins.  This particular bottle looked thicker.  The design and pattern lent some distinction.  We both agreed that $10 seemed reasonable until she took it to the counter and the cashier asked for $40.  I guess our eyes saw what we wanted to see.  We could now clearly see the $40.

I take time to love the me that saw what it wanted to see.

Sharing what I have to offer

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Restorative Yoga … to heal and relax

I regularly donate blood with the intention of keeping my iron levels balanced;  for getting information on my physical health; and, with the intention of helping others.  The needles always feel too big for my veins.  They bite and leave a mark.  My friend tells me that her daughter was recently hospitalized because of low iron levels.  Her condition was severe  and she needed two blood transfusions to elevate those levels.  Blood donation has always felt unpleasant until hearing this news.

My friend gladly takes the information about and recommendation for Restorative Yoga for her daughter to heal and relax in order to better figure out her next move.  The article 10 Benefits of Restorative Yoga  explains the importance of this type of yoga.  Here are the first two:

  1. Slows Down the Pace of Life:  disconnect from the frenetic activity of daily life and let your speedometer return to 0 mph.
  2. Soothing to the Nervous Systemoverall calming effect on the nervous system sets a deeply relaxing tone …that comforts your mind and body….

 

I take time to love the me that shares what I have to offer.

Accepting changes

We’ve walked for an hour.  Made one stop in the store.  At the tail end of the walk, twenty-eight years that have passed since we met is apparent in visible and invisible changes.

During our conversation we say ‘Yes’,  we are sexy and we know it!  We’re both wise enough to agree to disagree about Clinton and Trump because who the hell knows what’s really going on there.   We admire our gray hairs in the super short afro and the long dreadlocks.  We don’t speak about our slightly jiggly middle.  My ankles and feet hurt.  She has to run back to the restaurant to make it to the bathroom.

I take time to love these changes from years of living.

Sharing time with a friend helps me feel like a better friend to myself!

Feeding With the Emotion of Joy in Mind

Posted on: December 16th, 2016 By:
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Choose an activity that you enjoy.

It’s the holiday season and free food will be abundant.  New and old friends and family members will feed us.  Before taking a bite we may want to look at why we gravitate to certain foods. Gravitating towards sweets, as in my case, suggests other reasons besides a sweet tooth.  Better yet, along with eating the sweets, I found other ways to satisfy this urge.

Dr. Deanna Minich, a nutritionist, recommends  an activity you enjoy and can indulge in for just 30 minutes per day to better sate the real reason for the cravings for sweet foods.  The real reason, says Dr. Minich, is to experience the joy, the sweetness of life.  Apparently, no one recommends over indulgence in sweets.  So it seems best to  look at other ways to experience joy.  Let’s look at  the joy of food, yoga and dance.

Friends, Food and Joy

Feeding the sweet tooth.

Visiting old friends is the activity I chose for feeding the emotions with the joy of food.  The invitation  was for a “holiday Open House” at Morning Mist Retreats in Round Rock.  A place offering meditation and a variety of workshops.   The invitation was to celebrate the completion of the Japanese tea House.  And, so we did with the use of sage, drumming, singing and even some  dancing.

My joy-filled contributions to the group included the Laughter Yoga victory chant -“Very Good, Very Good! Yeah!  I also go to demonstrate “punta” the national dance from Honduras.  You need sturdy thighs and legs to dance this flat-footed-butt shaking dance for more than 1 minute.

The visit with old and new friends included feeding my emotions with actual food.  Yummy brownies, egg, scones, pudding, pies, crackers and fruit flavored cheese.  The variety of sweets partnered with proteins such as deviled eggs, mixed nuts definitely fed the sweet tooth.

Friends, Yoga and Joy

Yoga at Sanctuary Yoga is one of the activities I chose as part of feeding the emotion with the joy of yoga. The 8 a.m. Hatha class with new friend Leena Ladd offered many opportunities.  All instructors are friends.  My intention was to feel the joy in whatever arose in class.   And, I did!

I found myself feeding on the stretch of the Seated Forward Bend; and, feeding on the restfulness of the Child Pose ; and, feeding on the funny attempts at Tree Pose.  Any pose that brought attention to the feet, only reminds me of the healings offered to  my beloved ankles and  feet.

My favorite activity was feeding on the calming effect of the six counts on the inhale and six count on the exhale as suggested by Leena.  And, especially the time spent on Alternate Nostril Breath.  Breathing is one of the easiest things to do and most of us may not  even do that to our benefit.

To top things off, I took Restorative Yoga classes,  the “dessert of yoga.”  Yummy!

Building Community by Sharing More Than a Chair

Posted on: December 9th, 2016 By:
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It is Friday! I am unemployed and I have somewhere to go.  As part of building community, Sanctuary Yoga offered a free blogger’s workshop.

Building Community:

What was appealing about sharing this time?  I actually met three other bloggers that participated in the Sanctuary Yoga Austin community. That meant three more people, besides friends and family to bounce off ideas. They, like me, are in the process of building their blogger muscles.

The Presenter

Ryan Jordan, our presenter, gave the extra information we needed to move our blogs from ‘okay that’s good’  to a bit more ‘this is what may prove useful for the google seeker.’   He would know as the former education director of the Amala Foundation.

I got some snippets about his exciting trip to Africa as part of his work for Amala.

The Location

The community upstairs studio with a view.

The workshop was located at Sanctuary Yoga.  Better yet, we got to attend the workshop in  the studio space upstairs.  A lovely spot filled with enough furniture for comfort and with a lovely view of the yard and the  famous tree.

While waiting, I broused through, Live for the Soul, a book written by Vanessa Stone, the founder of Amala.   I actually wrote down some words of inspiration.  The way I am hardwired, sharing a new space takes some effort on my part.  Her words hit the right spot.

 

Untie the knots around your tender heart

Allow it to breathe

Offer it

Let it be seen

This is the beginning

The call of a new life

Although, not the original people, this photo shows that sharing a chair can add to the fun.

sharing a chair

Volunteers provided a community lunch in the main house and we were invited.  The community of volunteers cooked the food, set up the dishes, arranged the chairs, and washed the dishes.  Our goal was to enjoy and participate by sharing our words, feelings and thoughts with quite a diverse group (age, gender, ethnicity, hair color).

The lunch included some type of peanut butter soup, a cabbage salad, roasted cauliflour, quinoa.  I make soup every week so my main focus was the soup.  Yummy!  Reminded me of the gravy of a dish a friend from Nigeria made but with meat.

As the people outnumbered the chairs, I was invited to share a chair.  The closeness encouraged  intimacy in my talk with my fellow blogger.  We mostly discussed how pleased we were to be part of this ‘new to us’ community.  And, our new journey to redefine our work life.

My Friday was filled with gifts as our yoga community shared.