Para Yoga

Winter is here!

Winter is one of my favorite seasons.

I love when the snow falls and all is silent.

I love that I can see through the trees and see the landscape of the mountains.

I love to get out on my board and ride. Carve some turns. Get a little better.

I love feeling the cold on my cheeks and knowing that I have a warm house to go into.

I love seeing all of the animal tracks - deer, rabbits, foxes, fischer cats.

I love going for a walk while the snow is falling. The world is magical and beautiful. It always takes my breath away. 

I love putting on my pajamas at 4pm. 

I love the smell of wood burning in a fireplace. 

I love wearing a cozy sweater.




Being Versus Doing

We have all heard that we should "do" less and be more." Or something or other along those terms. However, how does one accomplish what needs to get done on a daily basis when there is life to live - jobs, family, exercise, social obligations and friends - and still be?

Until recently did I not fully comprehend this concept. It was the end of an amazing family trip out west and we had arrived at our final destination in Las Vegas. My niece came with me to my room to check it out. All I saw was this bench at the end of the bed that was half filled with pillows and all I wanted to do was to fall back on the bed into the soft and luxurious pillows. So that is exactly what we did. Not once, but about 5 times. We recorded each and everyone of them and one was posted to the group chat on WhatsApp. Each family - either paired off or on their own did the same thing and shared with the rest of us. The best part is that everyone clearly loved falling back onto the bed. It was playful, childlike, fun and joyous all in this simple act. 

I posted the video on Facebook and a friend commented something about "how present I was and how that showed upon my face." That struck a huge chord in me - a good one to self-reflect. "What am I like in my day to day life? Am I so caught up in settling into a new town that I am not allowing myself to enjoy? Am I coming off to people as strung up?" 

So, I took the moment to think about the difference. For the past week, I had been traveling with my family, each day in a new place. We were told when we had to be on the bus, where we would be eating, where we were going. There was no planning involved off the big things. This allowed me to sit back in the comfort of knowing that things were taken care of and enjoy the time with my family. I was being and not doing! The lightbulb when off in my head. For the previous 4 months, being new to a small town I had been constantly thinking of how to get myself known; how do I build a business; who do I connect with; how do I build my business and many more question and to-do lists went through my head on a regular basis. In addition, I felt that I had to accomplish all of this by a certain point.  The stress and pressure was a lot. I was caught up in the doing and getting the check list done. I had been made aware of the difference in my life being in the "doing" versus the "being."

When I came home, I knew I had to try to stay in this frame of mind and not fall back into the doing. It was actually simpler than I thought. Things in my life started to flow. I was allowing myself to get things done, but also seeing that what I had been working on was moving forward. It was really nice to be a part of everything and not feel like I had to get it done right now. There was little stress. It was definitely interesting to see the difference because it is so subtle, yet profound when one can drop into the present moment and not worry about what's to come nor what has happened. This past week, I saw the "doing" Ana start creeping in and it came about because of an event that I had planned. In wanting the even to be full, I found myself back in a familiar place. Gently, I had to remind myself to sit back, do what I can in appropriate timing, and allow things to unfold as they will. 


Getting Over Fear

Shortly after moving the Valley, I realized that I needed to learn how to mountain bike. Yes, I used to road cycle in Miami and do over a 100 miles a week, but this is nothing like that. The first day I got on my bike and went straight uphill with a friend, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. This is hard. Miami was flat, easy and if you came upon a hill you were crossing a bridge on paved road. Not here in Vermont - the state with the most dirt roads. I digress.  That first ride was very humbling experience and showed me that I needed to do more cardio - even hiking wasn't enough to keep up with mountain biking. 

The next thing was to go to Blueberry Lake. A little nervous, fearful, and excited all balled up into one. I decided to just do Tootsie Roll over and over again, in order to get comfortable, feel my bike, and get used to shifting. This was a whole new experience. I stayed to Tootsie for several times and my fear drove my to use the brakes almost always going down a hill. Then came the other trail's - Leonard's Loop and even later Flying Squirrel. The first couple of times the fear and nerves were present; I had no clue how to deal with a switchback; and I still rode the brake often. Oh boy, I didn't realize how quickly I would love trail riding. I am sticking to the same trails and each time getting a little better. It has been humbling when I can't make it up a switchback or a kid passes me by, but hey, I am 42 and trying something new and quite proud of myself. As the fear dissipates, the love for this sport is growing.


17 Years of Yoga

17 years ago, I overhead a friend of mine talking about a yoga class that our spin gym was offering. So that Saturday at 11am, I showed up for yoga. At this point I had take some classes here and there, but never stuck with it. There was something about Michelle's class and ashtanga that made me feel good - like I never had before. I knew I was hooked when 3 weeks later, while my grandfather was in the hospital I would excuse myself on Saturday around 10:40am to make that 11am class, it was the only thing that made sense to me as I watched my grandfather's life come to an end. For 3 years, I was a dedicated Ashtangi - 6 days a week practice and unrolling my mat wherever I went - from practicing on a cruise ship while pulling into Rio's port to Jivamukti's Mysore practice in NYC to  taking a 45 minute bus ride to the one Ashtanga studio in Toronto. I was dedicated. My practice grew and I began to shed things/thoughts/habits that were not in service to me. At the beginning, I only knew that I felt better about myself when I practiced. I felt strong from the inside. I felt calmer. It was all sort of magical, even if I spent the entire class in tears. 

Throughout the years, there have been times when I practiced more and times when I rarely practiced; however, I always found myself back on the mat. How I practice has changed throughout the years and depending upon the day or week I am having, the intensity of what I do varies. 

I am grateful to my teachers - there have been many - who have shared their wisdom; passed on the lessons they learned from their teachers; and who are willing to dedicate their time to teach. I am grateful to yoga because it has helped me recover from anorexia; gotten me through the death of my grandparents and brother; helped me find a moment of calm in the midst of chaos. But most importantly, my practice which consists of prayer, meditation, pranyama and asana, has helped me discover my truth. Because of yoga and the many people I have meant whether they be a teacher or a fellow student, I have learned more about myself then I did in therapy. I have learned my strengths, my weakness, when to push to my edge or when to sit back in child's pose. More importantly, I have learned to love myself.  It has been a journey that is only just beginning. 


"The hardest test in life is having the patience to wait for the right moment."

Yesterday evening, no students showed up to take my yoga class, so I had a choice to stay or to go home. It's tempting to want to go home at 5:45pm; however, I chose to stay and commit my time at the studio to yoga. Of course my mind went in several different directions, but I reeled my thoughts in and reminded myself "this is only your second week of teaching, it takes time to build a student base."

It's easy to get down in the dumps; get frustrated; wonder why it's not happening. It's much harder to trust in the unknown. Trust that I am here for a reason. Trust that I have something to offer. Trust in the process. Trust that the students will come. 

For me, in order to have trust, I need to have faith and be patient. 

Cambridge dictionaries defines patience as "the ability to accept delay, suffering, or annoyance without complaining or becoming angry." 

Wow, that definition doesn't sound easy. But, I love to teach yoga. I love to share it with my students and see them change, grow, and become more attuned to their heart. At moments, it is difficult knowing that I said goodbye to a very loyal group of students who regularly attended classes for this unknown entity of what is to come in my life. However, I have chosen to trust that God will provide, have faith that I am here for a reason, have patience that everything will work out as it will. In the meantime, I'll continue to show up to teach and know that those who are ready to work with me will come.