Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rocks and Progress

A friend of mine told me about a yoga class she took recently. The teacher kept referring to "progress on the path;" you know, just kinda noticing and acknowledging the progress you've made. "Great idea," I thought, "I could use more of that myself." I have a tendency to only notice BIG things, like when my business plan succeeds and I'm living the dream. But finally binding on the right side in Pavritta Parsvakoasana can also be also major cause for celebration, showing up for class on a cold morning is, in itself, a party.

I often take a morning hike by myself on Sundays and this last Sunday's walk was a particularly good one. I wasn't freaking out about not owning a tiny house or working on letting go of sadness, I was just in the moment, without even really trying to be. And I was just grateful, just because I was, I was just so grateful.

Walking along, I was suddenly dazzled by a beautiful and sparkly rock, without a thought, I picked it up. Twenty or so minutes later I was awed again by a gorgeoous orange stone, so I picked it up too.

A momentary pulse of guilt came over me, "I am stealing from nature?" I thought. "No," I decided, "these are souvenirs from my walk. I will keep them as reminders to how good I can feel; progress rocks from one of my favorite paths."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Out of Alignment

Have you guys ever gone to a personal trainer? It's super hard! They have you do all of this boring and difficult stuff and then, if you're like me, you may find out at that your dominant side is much much stronger than your non-dominant side. Sheesh it's tough to look at that while also lifting a whole bunch of heavy stuff.

Back when I first started doing Vinyasa yoga, I was really into it. I often went to class more than once a day. In Vinyasa, there's a pose called Chaturanga Dandasana that shows up a lot. When I first started doing Chaturanga, I sorta knew I wasn't doing it "right;" my left side was drooping lower faster than my right. Eventually, after doing it without proper alignment many, many times I developed an injury in my left wrist. Thanks to my injury, I stopped doing Chaturanga, learned more about it and when I healed, I was able to tackle it again with more knowledge and intention on how to do it correctly.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about a fight that two of my friends had, probably because it happened just about a year ago. See, one of my friends, let's call him Friend A, had let Friend B stay at his house. When Friend B asked if he could stay there again, feeling obligated, Friend A said yes again. This pattern repeated for many, many years. Because Friend B had a free place to stay, he came into town a lot. As time went on, Friend A felt less and less comfortable telling Friend B he couldn't stay at his house, but also realized more and more that having Friend B stay there wasn't really the best fit. After doing something that just didn't feel quite right for many years, Friend A finally lost it and blew up at good old Friend B who never meant any harm.

Believe me, I know it's hard to know what you're comfortable with and what you're not comfortable with, and it's even harder to voice what's okay with you and what's not okay with you. In my experience, stating what you want or need in any given agreement, whether it's popular or not, is always worth it. Doing things that are even just slightly out of alignment once or over and over again can and will lead to injury.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Follow the Guru Unless

Back when I first started getting B.E.S.T. treatments, I was really into this thing called "checking the field." During a B.E.S.T. treatment, the practitioner communicates with your subconscious mind through your body. At the end of the treatment, your conscious and subconscious minds are updated and synchronized to the present moment, thus your body can deal with present condition versus past trauma or future stress. At that time of being synchronized and balanced, it is possible to ask your energetic field "yes or no" questions. Now that I'm a B.E.S.T. practitioner, I know that the body has a very distinct way of communicating "Yes" versus "No."

Back in the day, I used to ask the field pretty much everything, "Is it positive for me to have a birthday party or just go out to dinner with some friends?" "Can I eat the gluten free bread they serve a Souen?" "Should I move to Portland, Oregon?" For a while, the field humored me and answered most of my questions. There came a time, however, when everything was coming up unclear. "Just sit with it," my teacher would say, "you have the answer, be with the questions a little more and the answer will come." As Ganga Giri says in one of their songs, "Don't follow the guru, you are the guru." Especially in this story! After all, the answers are coming from YOUR field.

Great idea not to follow the guru unless your guru is an adorable German Shepherd mix named Smokey. If Smokey's your guru, follow him. He's usually right, and work can be put off a little longer: what the morning is really calling for is a walk in the graveyard.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Burnout or the Blues

A couple weeks back, just for kicks, I went to see a local highly respected Doctor of Oriental Medicine. We had a lot of fun because I didn't have any physical complaints or illnesses we needed to address. I had a feeling he was going to tell me to stop drinking coffee and then he told me to stop drinking coffee. He picked up on some athletic stress in my body and some psychic stress from my work because I haven't done my 10,000 hours yet.

He also told me that sometimes I mistake tiredness for sadness. Do I ever. I have a big time tendency to fill up my calendar with work and social commitments; I'm still working on cultivating more alone time, time for nothing and back-to-the-well time. Often when I finally realize how exhausted I am, I can't imagine leaving the house for the rest of the afternoon and I mistake that burnout for the blues. The truth that I deal with fatigue much more so than melancholy comforts me. No way in heck am I ready to give up coffee yet, but I did cut my intake in half.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


More and more these days I can't stand it when someone leaves a voice-mail with histrionics to the effect of: "We haven't talked in SO long." If you are close enough to me to have a charge around us not talking for a few days, then you are close enough to me to call me whenever you want. If I don't answer, I'll call you back.

Patterns of dramatics have become more deplorable to me because I recognize these patterns; I can be dramatic, too. I might not leave a passive-aggressive message saying, "It sure would be nice to hear your voice," but I might cover things up or avoid things by being bigger or louder. Secrets revealed: when I was a kid and throughout college, I studied acting. I also overuse exclamation points in personal emails, and sometimes I get so excited that people can't tell if I'm enthusiastic or sarcastic.

All of this reminds me of a very specific part of my work as a B.E.S.T. practitioner. When you come get a B.E.S.T. treatment from me, chances are, there will be a part of your session when I say, "Please take a deep breath in and hold that breath in for as long as you can. When you need to exhale, that's fine, but then inhale again and hold your breath in for as long as you can." Certain folks are super hell-bent on doing a really good job at that part. I can relate to these folks; I also like doing a good job. I am also old, old friends with over-efforting. If you're trying to do a really good job at holding your breath in to the point that you are no longer relaxed, I might say something like, "In B.E.S.T., we are trying to let go of perfectionism. Just hold your breath in for as long as you can. If that's only two seconds, that's fine. We're just working with the pattern of holding the breath in; no big deal if it's not for very long at all." Patanjali says something in the yoga sutras about what we're really going for is super smooth inhales and exhales; no jagged edges, just long, fluid, silky lines of breath.

Maybe I just have a big personality and other people in my life also have big personalities. And there's really nothing wrong with that. At this stage in the game, I have no interest in trying to change my big or little personality. But I do want to look at when I'm acting out ego and when I'm chilling in spirit.

One of my favorite parts about writing this blog is that I give myself ABSOLUTE permission to read as many "self-help" books as I want. I feel proud of myself for it; it's research, bitches. This is what Charlotte Kasl says in If the Buddha Dated about what I'm trying to get rid of:

"...the rigid or inflated ego is concrete and dualistic---right-wrong, good-bad, friend-foe. It is tethered to past experiences that have become hard-wired in the brain, resulting in rigid beliefs, fear of change, and an inability to see the many sides of a situation. We are also caught in our inflated ego when we lose perspective on our immediate situation. We're like the teenager who ‘will die’ if he or she can't go to a certain rock concert or see a certain friend. While we can have preferences, the minute we start insisting that people and situations be different, we create internal turmoil--anger, hostility, sadness, and so on." (p. 39)

Gosh this is the longest tipandtrick ever. If you're still with me, and wonder what I'm doing with all of these words: I'm trying to smooth out some edges.

Friday, February 8, 2013


"You have to go out of balance to train balance."

-My friend Kyoko's BOSU Video

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What the Teacher Says

A few months back I asked a client of mine whether or not she meditated. She said, "I do yoga."
"Not the same thing," I replied. Don't get me wrong I think asana, the physical practice of yoga, is SO HELPFUL, but it doesn't offer the same answers, clarity, and stillness that sitting practice does.

Some of us who have been practicing asana for a long time can be even more in our heads during yoga class. Those of us with injuries, opinions, or a teacher training under our belt can spend a whole class making decisions about what not to do, what to do instead, and why.

It takes judgment and insight to opt not to do what the teacher says because you think it's not be the best thing for your body; I encourage that discernment in my students. It's a slippery slope though, and I've slid down the whole dang thing. If you're like me and getting out of your head isn't the all-time-easiest-thing to do, yoga class could become just another venue to attach to your stories, likes, dislikes, and other reek-of-ego type things.

When I first moved to Taos, I packed my schedule pretty quickly and with yoga class options more slim, Yogaglo saved me. Taking classes online is great, but without the support of the other students in the room, I am SO much less likely to do everything the teacher says. My preferences started to get even more preferency.

Lately I have been practicing just doing what the teacher says. Online and in class, whatever the teacher says, I do it. It feels really good; like how yoga used to feel, so mind-bogglingly opening. Whether or not you're a yoga student, the smartest person in the world, or an Olympic athlete, there must be some arena in your life where you can allow yourself to trust "the expert." Listen to your body, I'm not suggesting you do anything that might hurt, or prolong an injury. But otherwise, give it a go! How 'bout sometimes stepping out of your head and allowing someone else to be in charge?

You might love it or hate it, but probably, you'll learn something, even if it's just a little something about yourself.

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Me Time

Still getting into the tipsandtricks Friday groove, I had no idea what to write about until I took some much needed "me" time after my morning appointments. During my me time, I did yoga. During yoga, I realized I was starving. I stopped doing yoga, ate lunch and after lunch, continued to do yoga. The recovering perfectionist in me was hoping to control my mood after yoga; I wanted to feel energized and fresh. Instead, yoga helped me realize that I feel tired and drained.

The recovering perfectionist in me also hates to cancel appointments. When it got to be time to get it together for my 2:45 voice lesson, I was not feeling finished with my me time. Folks, today, for the first time in my life, I cancelled an appointment that I have to pay for anyway. I am so happy. For real, this is serious cause to celebrate. I couldn't be more thrilled for my me time, for my recovering perfectionism or for the nap I'm about to take.