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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

coin_jar

…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!

How community nourishes my soul.

Posted on: December 15th, 2016 By:
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How community nourishes my soul.

How community nourishes my soul.

Community.

I have come to realize that just as self care, yoga and meditation nourish my soul, so does community. Gathering with those who genuinely want to share their precious time with you and you with them. As I grow within my journey, I realize that I get to choose my community. Choosing to meet those that have similar passions and missions is so important to me on this path that I am on.  I am still transitioning out of my stagnant work environment from the past twenty years, but I have a precious few that I call”family.” For this I am grateful for. Sometimes as you let go of jobs and experiences, you have to let go of people to open space for new. This is how I feel about the community within Amala and being part of their weekly community lunches and yoga at Sanctuary. I have opened my heart to receive and through this, the community has been nourishing not only for my body, but for my soul.

Amala Community Lunches: Nourishing.

For the past few weeks, I have been taking part in Amala’s weekly lunches where the community proceeds benefit the Foundation. They have volunteers that cook, clean and put love into serving their community gathering. Many there, I feel may have been part of this community already but each smile lights up the room welcoming you as you walk in. Any feelings of “the first day of school” jitters quickly disappeared and I felt right at home. It amazes me that when you open up, are open and surround yourself with those that want to be there, what you leave with. Yes, I left satisfied. Yes, even a bit full. But, most of all, I left with this sense of community nourishing my soul. Each time I have visited, I am able to meet and share with those on a similar journey as myself. Seeking community, making changes in their life to benefit the better good, and sharing bravery. I left with supportive stories in just that short time and have been able to give my support and undivided attention while sipping my cup of warm nourishing soup. It is within this that I feel the warmth that these community lunches have nourished and wrapped its arms around my soul, deeper than I could imagine.

Yoga at sanctuary

In my short time practicing at Sanctuary, I already feel when I step in the room that I am part of something bigger. Something divine. This community at many of my mediation yoga classes share their space and hearts in a very deep way. I always feel that those four walls are safe for me. This yoga community and the teachers are always so inviting and I see a sense of welcoming to new and existing students that goes far beyond being nice. They want to be there. They want you to feel that and it is done so effortlessly that my soul is so satisfied, so nourished each time.

 

So, as I move toward my dreams of working with children and community through yoga and mediation, I know that the Amala Foundation and Sanctuary yoga will be part of my new home. If you want to join us, here is the link:

Home

 

 

 

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.

 

Letting go of expectations.

Posted on: December 5th, 2016 By:
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Letting go of expectations.

letting-go-of-expectations

Letting go of expectations.

We have them. We think we should look like this, be this or have this. Sometime in our life, we have all felt that way. That little voice in your head that holds on, sticky as it may feel to the expectations we or society have for us. Let’s be real here. It hurts the most when someone you love, has these for you. The idea in their head of what “your” life should look like. Sure, I may have my own and battle with this from time to time, but I am stopped in my tracks when it is someone so close.

I have known that not everyone will nor has to understand this journey that I am on. It is mine. I am still trying to understand it. But, what spins me around and gets me into a messy battle with myself is when it is my momma. Why? Because I know her approval has been important to me for years. Her understanding and support.  Up until age forty, I asked myself before major decisions, “what will my mom say?” She is supportive in her prayerful and loving way, but not understanding where my next “job” will be at is confusing her.

It has been a few weeks, and I have thought about how and what I should say. Maybe an email, maybe really sharing with her how yoga and meditation have made such an impact on my life that I want to help others. Sharing with her that I love children and our future and I see hope for them through these teachings. She would understand, she would have to, right? Then I thought, WOW, I need to be the one letting go of expectations. I need to stop carrying that weight around. This isn’t about her.

Began to first realize this during a guided meditation with my acupuncturist. I had shared all of this and it was heavy on my chest. This bond is thick, so I knew it would take time to heal the wound I had let those words place on me. I spent the next week unbalanced and draining it all. Literally. I knew this was part of the process. It wasn’t until last night, when I was reading an expert from Eckhart Tolle’s, A New Earth. It all made sense, by letting go of my expectations of how she should feel or react, I could let go of my own. What a heavy burden released, indeed dear Eckhart!! I could have chosen to carry that for years and accumulate more and more or let it go. I woke up lighter, easier to breathe. Less congested. Not totally balanced, yet on my way.

Think I need to do some flow today as I take to my mat and continue letting go of expectations. ALL of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with loss.

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 By:
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Dealing with loss.

fullsizerender-5http://tinybuddha.com/blog/dealing-with-loss-and-grief-be-good-to-yourself-while-you-heal/

Dealing with loss is difficult. Whether you felt a sense of loss in last week’s “results” or you lost someone you love, it is tough. But, truly understanding how to deal with it is part of your healing. It is easy to use shopping, food, alcohol or some other deterrent to cover the pain at first, but it will still always be there. I have done that, I have learned. All of those are just band-aids.

A month ago, we lost our beloved, sweet Staley boy. At almost fifteen, he had been my husband’s wing man. The most loyal dog I have ever witnessed. I knew he didn’t have too long left with us, but that day we weren’t ready for him to go down so quickly. His eyes told a story that he was ready to go home. They say, you should always live today as your last, but we let so much interfere with cherishing each moment . Staley did this. He was the prime example of living in the moment and taught me so much about life in the short two years I was given to love him.

Dealing with loss also means dealing with the empty space. The shift in energy. Our space, our home dynamics instantly changed. I found us walking around staring at each other and wondering how would we ever feel normal again? We had heavy hearts and a sense of confusion. I kept asking myself how would I ever make up for the pain that my husband was feeling? What can I do to make it better? The answer is, I couldn’t. And I had pain too.

We had many emotions swelling up inside and each one of us had to deal with them individually and still come together to be strong for each other. The above link really helped me when I wondered not only about the stages of grief, but tips on how to begin mending. My favorite is to “allow light in the middle of it all.” During any loss, you may be so struck with such heartache.that the last thing you want to do is go to work or go out with friends. But, that is what you need to do. Life is a celebration and being among those that love you and can support you is important. Remembering that self love is crucial and that loss is part of the big plan for us all.

Staley lived a beautiful life, but it was in those last few months that he was the greatest teacher I may ever meet. I miss him daily and my heart still aches for one last hug or to help my husband with him one more time at night. To see him cuddled on the couch, chase a squirrel or look into his big, beautiful chocolate eyes.

So, with whatever loss you may be going through, let “time and space” happen. My pain, our pain will not go away today, nor tomorrow but knowing how to deal with it when it arises is the best self care practice you could ever do for yourself.

 

 

I vote for compassion.

Posted on: November 8th, 2016 By:
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I vote for compassion.

I vote for compassion.

I vote for compassion.  On and off my mat.

Last week at yoga, I felt a sense of safety. You know, those rare moments that you belong exactly where you should be at that very moment?? In the company of those that are feeling what you are feeling?? Love and compassion for my journey, my story, and why I was there. To be able to share with total strangers what is in my heart and what I am feeling at that very moment {and they with me,} takes it to another level. Pushes me out of my comfort zone. Moments of excitement and anxiety always surface when it is my turn to share but always ending with such beautiful relief to “let it all go.” On this day (oh especially THIS day,) I vote for compassion. For myself, for others, for everyone I meet that I don’t know their story. It is the clear winner. Every time.

Our yoga instructor took such a delicate approach with us and I was genuinely thankful to have shown up for myself that day. Thirty minutes before the class, I was still talking myself out of it. Funny when you are not working, what a best friend the cozy couch can be, LOL!! {Funny, NOT funny.} Still getting used to this no job to go to thing:) It is amazing how instructors can really “feel” a room, the energy, adjust, and lead us in such healing without many words spoken. What an incredible hour of being gentle with ourselves and showing compassion even when it felt tough. Although it felt like I had stretched myself harder in those moments than before, compassion for what my body could and couldn’t do on and off my mat were in my mind. No judgement. A feeling of home and always back to child’s pose.

Last thing, I read a quote the other day that said, “The funny thing is, nobody really ever knows how much anybody else is hurting. We could be standing next to someone who is completely broken, and we wouldn’t even know.” Right??? Some people are great at putting up a front for others, me included!!! Feeling broken HURTS and is difficult. Yoga and mediation have helped me heal so many wounds and begin the process of not only “duck taping” myself back together, but feeling whole again. So much beautiful change. Going from anxiety years ago to being able to find a place of compassion on and off the mat is a continuous work in progress.

I vote for compassion. This is not a place of rest but a true dance, on and off my mat.

 

Checking in with my space.

Posted on: November 2nd, 2016 By:
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Checking in with my space, my heart. We don’t give ourselves this opportunity too often in life. This is new for me to have the time to feel again, discover, create and let go. To check in every moment with myself. Mostly, I was rushing into life instead of savoring it. I spent years with a “to do” list and it is a hard habit to break. Actually, the other day I grabbed a new calendar just to feel like I had appointments on my schedule again, LOL!!! Classic me, list maker. Really, they never end. The struggle is real.

Starting fresh and checking in with my space can take me DEEP. At times, I just sit with myself for hours. Sometimes forgetting who I am and succumbing to that same old thought pattern. Taught (like most of us,) at such a young age that we are our name, our race, our religion, where we are from and who we should grow up to be. Falling into this category for much of my life but never feeling like I quite fit into the “right” mold. I was always too “this” or not enough of “that.” Constantly giving up my power to be me, listening to societies rules. After years of trying to follow them, I am confident that I am in a better space. Always looking for creative outlets to express who I truly was. Used to have those stuck feelings tangled up inside. Oh yes, major tummy issues but that is another blog post! Coming to realize that I don’t need a new work schedule quite yet, but I do need a routine or daily ritual.

Here are the three ways I will be checking in with my space:

Be gentle.

This is a BIG one for me. So many times, my own personal expectations are HUGE. Wanting to perfect things for no reason. Going with the flow and making peace with my new pace is important to me. Connecting with myself instead of thinking I should be “doing” at every moment isn’t as easy as it sounds. Enjoying my lemon water reverently, staying in bed five more minutes, meditating when I am ready. Just being.

Self love instead of self judge.

Secondly, THIS! It is true that I love myself but it is also true that there are days that I make myself feel guilty for sitting on the couch. Literally, I jump up when my husband comes home unexpectedly just looking for a “chore” to get myself into, hahahaha! Going through moments that I feel guilty for not working. Less of this is necessary. Less judging. Knowing I am on the right path and that it will all unfold when it is time.

Listen to my body.

Telling myself that I NEED to go to yoga or run daily is tons of pressure. Plan on listening more to my body. Not only with what it is called to do each moment, but why it is. Listening to how I feel when I eat or don’t eat something. Taking this time to truly nourish myself inside and out. This includes what I put on my skin too. And if I need a nap or a day off, enjoy it and thank my body.

 

Yoga pants: Putting them on one leg at a time.

Posted on: October 25th, 2016 By:
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Hello,

My name is Cynthia. Three weeks ago, I chose a new magical journey. One that will bring me closer to my mat and in turn to myself. After 20+ years of working for corporate America with endless amounts of travel, I moved on. I let IT go. All that did not serve me anymore, I sent it packing. The Universe has sent me beautiful signs to let me know that it has my back. Time to get comfortable in my new space as I learn to put my yoga pants on one leg at a time. Easy, right?

Suddenly, it hit me. I DON’T HAVE A JOB. Ha, ha, ha, ha, I knew that was coming! I really don’t have a job?! Breathe. Deep breath in and exhale. I am starting over. First of all, I will { in this new life I envision for myself,} be the “new” one again. After years with my company, I was a leader. Yes, I was always learning but a “veteran.” Confident. Therefore, doing it in my sleep almost perfectly. Letting that “ego” lift will happen, but it will take time. Excited to dedicate my life to passions that have me leaping inside!! Teaching children and adults yoga/meditation while helping to take us all back to the place we came from, LOVE.

Consequently, after months of travel this year, my personal yoga practice suffered and I feel it. As a result, I am not as flexible, I am forgetting my posture and FORGET about any inversions, ha! Last Monday’s class I was extremely focused on trying to “perfect” my poses vs. breathing. I needed some time. Time to understand the loss of moving on from what I have known for more than half of my life. Just be. Needless to say, it was a LONG week.

So, today I felt ready. The yoga and meditation class was calling me. Due to me going more inward, I was in a better energy space. Before I dressed, I reminded myself of one crucial element. You are just like everyone else there, they are just like you. You all put your yoga pants on one leg at a time. Hence, this is about my own personal practice and where I am IN this very moment.

Starting Over – Again

Posted on: July 24th, 2016 By:
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Hello, old friends! It’s been a while. I’ve been on a hiatus from yoga for a couple of months (mostly due to severely overloading my calendar), but I managed to squeeze in a class earlier this week. Finding that my body had been positively craving being in the studio was a bit of a surprise. The truth of the matter is, I know how I feel when I do yoga. And I know that I need that feeling in my life, no matter how hectic my day-to-day may get. And so, I am starting over!

I would like to publicly set myself some goals for the next few months, because I seem to be better at holding myself accountable for things when I know I’ve put my aspirations out into the world, for anyone to see. So, without further ado, my goals:

  • Go to class at Sanctuary twice per week
  • Go on the Saturday yoga hike at least once per month
  • On days I can’t go to class, I will practice at home – even if just for 15 minutes!
  • Meditate before bed
  • Research yoga history, science, theory, etc. to write useful blog posts

starting over

Life is only going to get more crammed as this year goes on: I’ve decided to sign up for statistics courses at the local college, I’ve been given more projects at work, I have a big trip to Europe coming up, and I am trying to lose a few pounds before my good friends’ wedding in October. Whew. But what I have consistently found is that the higher my stress level / more busy my calendar, the more useful yoga is to me. These past couple of months have burned me out a little, and stepping back into the studio made me feel like I was washing away some of the tension I’d built up. Let’s see if I can go even further! Here’s to starting over — again.