Tag Archives: martha’s vineyard yoga festival

Day 244: practice, practice, practice

1 Sep

Practice. Practice. Practice.  

I have been practicing my yoga more intensely this week. It helps that the Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival is here, good motivation of course.  It also helps that I am showing up to class.

Being more active this week made me question… why not all the time?

What does it take for me to consistently show up for yoga?
A friend to go with?
A festival?

I’m not sure. All I know is I feel better when I practice on my mat. Whether it is in a class or with a DVD, or using my trusty iPhone App. Doesn’t matter. The results are the same — I feel great.

So today, as I sweated it out at Tapas Hot Yoga, I looked down at my feet and saw a tennis ball speaking to me.  (Why a tennis ball? We began our practice with tennis balls cushioning under the neck as we stretched.)

It may have been the 105 degree heat in the room that got to me. It could have been too many downward dogs. But I swear that tennis ball was sending me a message.

As I looked and refocused my eyes on it, I let out a little chuckle under my breath. Right there, on the side of the Wilson tennis ball was the one word that I am convinced makes all the difference — in yoga, in sports, in work,  and in life.

Practice.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

 

Day 243: blue moon – what do you want to start?

31 Aug

TGIF.
Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. In Year One, I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the words Funny, Funny.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:
Footed

As in, left foot first.

I watched the sunset tonight and then the moonrise. 

The blue moon rise.

This was right after an incredible yoga class with Sara Ivanhoe at the Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival.

Sara guided us through a special practice specifically for the Blue Moon. What does that mean? Well, for starters we did everything backward.

Left foot first. 

Because the right side of our body is all energy, sunshine, light, masculine, external. While the left side is shadow, internal, the feminine within. And, since all (most) yoga teachers begin with the right foot first, right side first, our left sides get a little less work, energy, attention.

Which, as Sara explained, is a fascinating phenomenon in our masculine, external, energy driven society where we are so busy projecting out our energy. Basically, we shortchange our left side and our internal energy in this right dominated culture.

So today, we focused on the moon side. Left foot first.

It totally screwed me up.
In a good way.

Sara also guided us through some incredible moves and even greater insight and tips for our yoga practice. One of my favorites:

“Where the eyes go, the energy flows.”

Makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

I know this from my basketball days — where you look is where the ball goes. Where you look is where you hands go. Where you look is where your body takes you.

It works in yoga too.

1) Where your eyes go is where your body goes.

2) The body has two energies – moving forward and backward.

Why does this matter? If you want to hit a Crow and then jump into Chaturanga, it helps to look forward instead of down. Really, it does.  AMAZING.

Not that I can do it (yet) but I fearlessly tried. I also tried to do a handstand leaning up against the wall. I TRIED. I did not succeed. Which I am still a bit uncomfortable getting comfortable with. It sucks to be the only one in class not able to do something.

Which I know isn’t the point.  And, I’m sure that’s just my moon side, the shadow within, complaining. To that, I promise to be fearless and return to yoga again tomorrow. As my father always says — “the sun will rise tomorrow.”

Speaking of the sun and moon rising, Sara also asked us these two intriguing questions in light of the blue moon — a powerful time to begin again.

What do you want to start? 
What do you want to let go of?

Day 242: “you can tie your body in knots but without the essence there will always be a piece missing.”

30 Aug

I spent the day (and most of the night) at the Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Festival. I volunteered to help out in exchange for participating. What a good deed, win-win, I thought.

It turned out to be a greater gift to me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the class title for Saul David Raye‘s “Inner Alchemy:  Igniting the Fire of the Heart” — I just knew I had to be there so I signed up.  Especially with this being my year to lovemore+fearless.

The class promised to “focus on strengthening and activating the spiritual HEART and doing inner transformation through the 7 levels of energy within.”

And, focus on the heart we did. Tonight, I can honestly say I am moved, stretched and mentally drained, and energetically lightened in a very rejuvenating way.

I also participated in my first Kirtan or “chant.”

I left with these thoughts swirling through my head: 

1) We are ever-evolving and never “done” (isn’t that reassuring!)

2) Enlightenment is not a state to aspire to — it is not separate from our current being or something we attain to turn into — it is a state of being who we already are.

3) “Essence” is more important than the pose.

As Saul David Raye said:

“You can tie your body in knots but without the essence there will always be a piece missing.”

How true that is.

It made me think back to my very first hot yoga class — where I strained and stretched in order to “hit” all the right poses, while cranking my neck, looking up at the instructor and around at everyone else in the class to figure out what knot to tie my body into next.

The foreign names of poses meant nothing to me. Garudasana? Balasana? Shavasina?  What the hell were they saying?

Then the instructor announced that we “Type A” people need to stop comparing ourselves in yoga class and stick to our own mat, go at our own pace, and stop competing.

“She’s talking to me.” I thought as I strained my head to see if she was looking directly at me. I had never been told to stop competing before. I am a trained athlete. Competing is what I do!

But that whole new world of yoga exposed my inner athlete and all her self-conscious pursuits.

And, now, four years later, I am still trying to figure out what the instructor is saying. What pose comes next. Where to put my head and hands.

The difference is, today, I found myself dropping into Child’s Pose whenever I felt called. Taking a break whenever I needed it. I stayed flat on my mat in Shavasina as long as I wanted.

The competition was gone. Just breath, in and out, remained. 

And, really, it’s the breath that matters most.

As Saul David Raye explained today, our breath determines the length of our life. The deeper and more we breathe, the longer we live.

And that may be the essence of it all. 
No matter what, just breathe.

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