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When We are Mindful…

June 3, 2011

When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture: that we are only given one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that reality both humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our universe and grateful for our brief but intrinsic participation with it.

– Elizabeth Gilbert

Take a walk. Stop and look up to the sky. Smile in awe of the subtle greatness of nature. Close your eyes and inhale the life that surrounds you. Smile in gratitude, knowing the immeasurable gift of this moment. Om Shanti.

In Other News…

June 2, 2011
  • The Summer issue of Brite Magazine deadline just passed. My column, My Savoir Faire Lady, explores do’s and dont’s of summer parties and might even incorporates a recipe or two from the fabulous Angela at Oh She Glows [hint, hint!]. Watch out for that in July.
  • In September – which seems like worlds away but will be here before we know it – I’m chairing a race for the Travis Manion Foundation, an organization that grew from one Marine’s dedication to selfless service. Travis Manion was killed in combat in 2007. His family started the foundation in order to benefit disabled veterans and families of fallen service members, among other things. Yours truly is serving as the Race Director for Orlando’s first annual 9/11 Heroes Run. Just a few days ago at his Memorial Day speech from Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spoke about Travis Manion and one of his brothers-in-arms, Brendan Looney:

As an extension of Travis’ commitment to the first responder community, the 5k and 1-mile fun run is held to honor and benefit firefighters, police, EMT’s, and military personnel, among others. Presented by Chevy and supported by countless other generous organizations, the Orlando race will benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college scholarships for children of Special Operations service members killed in combat. Needless to say, theirs are causes that are dear to my heart. More race on specifics later. In the meantime, learn more about Travis here.

  • I’ll be in NYC for a quick trip next weekend and am welcoming class suggestions and date requests [Nancy and Terra, that means YOU!]. Holler, y’all.

The Yoga of Writing [and the Writing of Yoga]

May 31, 2011

If you’re curious why things have been quiet ’round these parts lately, it’s not because I’ve actually been keeping my mouth shut [chatterbox status established circa 1989 in Miss Oberley's kindergarten class]. And, despite my lust for glamour, it’s not because I’ve been asked to spend a sultry summer working at Tom Ford in Milan [but if you’re reading this, Gucci, I hereby offer up my kidney life savings for the opportunity, kthx].

Instead, my efforts have been geared toward a very non-glamorous endeavor: writing. After a good friend gave me Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book of Days, I committed to write every day not only to satiate my creative appetite but also to improve my writing. Reeves’ book is genius: in addition to providing inspiration in the form of daily writing prompts, she offers expert creative writing advice in the form of a practical how-to.

So you ask, why do I care? [fair query]

Well, dear readers, you care because like all great things in life, writing is exactly like yoga – and Reeves’ book reminded me of that. In her introduction, Reeves explains the importance of developing a writing practice and does so by speaking from experience:

On any given day, a writer can write the best she’s ever written, or she can compose a piece that’s clunky and misshapen and downright embarrassing in its black-and-white awfulness. Practice isn’t about being a good writer or a bad writer; it’s about being present with the writing, surrendering to the process, and trusting the pen.

I chuckled to myself after reading this sentence and thought of the yoga practices that left me feeling like a sleek ballet dancer versus those that left me feeling as graceful as a teletubby [or is it teletubbie? whatever].

Photo Credit: PBS.com

[yeah, they're still creepy...!] Read more…

Happy Hump-asana Day: Anjaneyasana / Low Lunge

May 18, 2011

Let’s not waste any time today, dear readers!

In the spirit of tight hamstrings [but really because I'm selfish and have been doing this pose every day], today’s Hump-asana pose is Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge.

Photo Credit: Yoga Journal

Now you might be wondering how this pose targets hamstrings at all. Well, it doesn’t [but it does]. See, as Sage Rountree explains, if you find yourself constantly struggling with tight hamstrings, it might not be your hamstrings at all – it might actually be your hip flexors. Instead of butchering the science behind why tight hip flexors cause that tight hamstring feeling [but really because I'm busy!], check out Sage’s comprehensive explanation here.

If you’re comfortable in low lunge and and ONLY if you feel it won’t compromise your knee, try this: Lunge in front of a wall so that you face away from it. Bend your rear knee and scootch [only the most technical of terms here at VY!] your rear leg back towards the wall, so that your knee is bent and your shin can rest against the wall.* Breathe into the hip flexor and quad of the rear leg. Read: 2-for1!

*Fold your mat or use a blanket under your rear knee for extra padding and support.

Feel the relief!

Happy Hump-asana Day, fellow yogis! Get your minds out of the gutter – Hump-asana Day, traditionally known as Wednesday or “Hump Day” in lamens/working-folk tongue, is a mid-week yogi treat. Hump-asana Day features a snippet of a pose worth spending some time exploring. And since they’re ALL worth exploring, we’ll never run out of poses for Hump-asana Day – rejoice!

Toxic Topic[als]

May 17, 2011

So you’re a vogue yogini – the “vogue” suggesting your penchant for all things fashionable and the “yogini” suggesting your ability to forsake most of those things. You bring last season’s clothes to a thrift store and donate well-worn items. You’ve pared down your closet and learned to live on less [less stilettos but more stretchy pants, that is]. At posh soirees you stick to sparkling water [ok, or maybe just a glass of pinot] and vegetarian lettuce wraps. You refuse the most decadent of treats during the holidays because you know the havoc that attractive red velvet cake will wreak on your insides, nevermind your bum. You buy a new vacuum cleaner with an EPA filter. You feel pretty clean, pretty “green,” and pretty non-toxic. Then, after a long day of green juice, asana, avoiding the sale at Nordstrom, and scrubbing your kitchen with some P & G Seventh Generation cleanser while chanting the mantra for purification, you get home and lather the highly-toxic Retinyl Palmitate into your largest organ – your skin. What? How? Who?  Me? That’s right – you. Have you heard of Pond’s Time Rewind Overnight Wrinkle Repair Cream? Givenchy No Surgetics Wrinkle Defy Correcting Cream? Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Tinted Moisturizer? Laura Mercier Oil-Free Gel Cleanser?

Each of the products mentioned above are rated a 9 out of 10 in toxicity by the Environmental Working Group. And each product mentioned, along with 418 others, contain Retinyl Palmitate, a “known human reproductive toxicant,” and low doses of the ingredient have caused tumors in lab rats [and they test on animals - not awesome either]. That’s right, the chick at the Laura Mercier counter took your $35 and gave you a bottle of poison advertised as facial cleanser. Specifically, the product advertisement is as follows:

Laura Mercier Oil-Free Gel Cleanser is an oil-free gel containing coconut and oat cleansing agents that gently removes oil and impurities.

  • Marine derived exfoliants remove dead skin cells to help minimize the appearance of pores
  • Allantoin calms & soothes skin
  • Panthenol lightly moisturizes & Vitamins A & E protect the skin against free radicals
  • Avoid contact with the eyes

[Avoid contact with the eyes? Red flag!]

Nowhere does the product advertise its dangers [shocking].

Now, I am by no means a chemical or product expert [I barely passed science in college, after all] but I am a fan of not ingesting poison. Read more…

Happy Hump-asana Day: Salamba Sarvangasana / Supported Shoulder Stand

May 11, 2011

Happy Hump-asana Day, friends!

In honor of Mother’s Day, today’s Hump-asana pose is coined the “mother” of all asanas: Salamba Sarvangasana / Supported shoulder stand [it's fun to say, too].

Before we get down to Salamba Sarvangasana [see, isn't it fun to say?], check out this throwback photo of my mom taken at her college graduation with her mom:

Mom and Mema at Colby-Sawyer College Graduation, 1976

[check out Mema's stole, btw. Classic!]

A mother’s love is irreplaceable. She forgives you for failing out of college, for crashing the car, for not calling enough, and for committing other atrocities throughout the various phases of your life. She simply loves. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find mothers throughout your life. You see, motherhood isn’t necessarily biological. Maybe you find a mother in a co-worker, a teacher, a friend, a mentor, in nature [hello, Mother Earth!]. Mothers are everywhere. The cool part is, there are no prerequisites – she [or he] must, simply, love.

So it is in our practice. Our yoga can be “mothering,” too. Our practice asks nothing of us other than that we simply show up and breathe. And in return, it nourishes our bodies and nurtures our souls. In particular, supported shoulder stand nourishes our bodies by allowing the blood to drain from our lower limbs [especially helpful for those spending a lot of time on their feet] and offers our hearts a momentary break from pumping everything to our upper bodies.

Supported shoulder stand, according to Linda Kaban’s spotlight on Jivamukti Yoga Poses, has

…alleged healing prospects [that] are second only to the handstand. The shoulder stand lets you look at the world from a different perspective. Read more…

Just Keep Showing Up…

May 10, 2011

Just keep showing up when the clean laundry you piled on the sofa [because you're too busy to fold it] becomes your husband’s favorite seat, post-workout.

Just keep showing up when the second-rate blender you’re too cheap to replace erupts and splatters green juice all over the kitchen.

Just keep showing up when your “green cleanse” is thwarted by two consecutive nights of olive oil-drenched garlic bread and pinot noir.

…[and dark chocolate].

Just keep showing up when the break-out of the century has you resort to Noxema pads which ultimately peel your insanely-sensitive skin raw and leave you looking like a raccoon.

Just keep showing up when your body aches.

Just keep showing up when you haven’t prepared to teach class.

Just keep showing up when things aren’t what you expected.

Just keep showing up when the last thing you want to do is show up.

When you feel you have nothing left, just keep showing up. You won’t regret it. Keep practicing – on and off your mat.

When do you just keep showing up?

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