Monday, December 12, 2011

Taking time to enjoy

It's that time.  The time just before winter sets in that we all call "the holidays."  As fun as they can be, it's inevitable that we will end up at some point a little frazzled.  As for me, things have been on the edge of just that, and I came down with a cold!  Ick.  It appeared last week and then set in for real on the weekend...having me miss some much needed yoga classes, some of my last here on the island.  Having a cold while nursing your infant, doing other domestic daily needs, figuring out holiday stuff, and finally planning a move back in to your home...well, that spells frazzled to me.  So, what's a yogini to do?  Oh yeah, remember to breathe.  And drink lots of elderberry tea.  And eat homemade soup.  And try to rest.

And do some gentle yoga.  What yoga can one do when sick?
I started each day with some half sun salutes:  big breath in, exhale to forward fold, inhale to halfway lift, exhale fold, inhale back to tadasana, namaskaram.  Ah, that always felt nice.  Then take some standing gentle side bends, twists.
Later in the day, maybe work in some heart openers like cobra or locust on the belly, and maybe a bridge on your back.  While on your back, take a thread the needle or another hip opening pose.  And maybe hold down dog if you can breathe okay.
Basically, doing whatever feels good enough when you don't feel like your awesome physical self.  Any little bit helps and makes you remember it will pass and all is well.

As for that part about moving back to our home?  Yes, it is just about here!  In one week from today we will be having the final inspection and moving our stuff back into our "new" place in Somerville.  Won't be there long, as we'll be off again for family holiday cheer.  But, it's so exciting.  Boston friends and fellow students...I will see you soon!  Back to teaching (just a little) starting Jan. 8!  More details to come.  ;)

For now, we shall enjoy our home away from home, Nantucket.  Oh how we will miss her peace.  After all, it's her island magic that reminds me of all that yoga is.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pose of the moment: Headstand

Sirsasana: Brings fresh blood to the brain to rejuvenate brain cells.  Refreshes the pituitary and pineal glands, increasing hemoglobin in blood, which might then improve memory. :)
Also releases muscles in upper back, works your core, spreads the scapulae, strengthens shoulders/arms, and can just feel great!

I've been trying to practice this pose every day for the last month or so, and plan to keep that going (minus when I'm on my moon cycle).  It has been helping me conquer all sorts of crazy things.  Some including:
-the physical fear of going upside down, which after giving birth increased two-fold, as I had to regain my strength, and also know that I won't hurt myself in the pose
-emotional fears...oh so many.  this pose allows you to literally turn yourself upside down to gain new perspective when moody, stressed, depressed, or the like.
-mental fears/intellectual fears (stemming from this new role of mommyhood among other things)

Do you see a pattern here?  Yep, fear.  I've been seeing lots of other teachers talking about fear these days.  Must be the season?  At least we have poses like headstand to help us get over ourselves and bring us empowerment and confidence as well as physical benefits.  Yeah yoga!

I encourage you all to find your own "pose of the moment" or try this one this week as we enter the holiday season.  You might need it.  ;)

Happy Thanksgiving!

**if you've never practiced headstand before, I would consult a teacher's help first to make sure alignment is correct and that you won't hurt yourself.  If you're semi-practiced in it...start at the wall first! That's what I did at about 6 months post partum, to start getting back into it.  Gradually, you'll get strong enough to move away from the wall and try a variety of sirsasana styles.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Late November Update

It's almost thanksgiving!  Can't believe the holidays are here.  We (my little family and I) are STILL not home to Somerville yet.  I mean, when people suggested home renovation work could take months longer than expected...were we supposed to believe them for real?!  Apparently so.  It's been 4 1/2 months and counting for something we thought would take 3 months.  We are working with Boston Green Building, which is great, but they tend to use independent subcontractors and materials that need ordered, and all such things that can take longer.  Plus, there have been a few roadbumps with inspections.  It is a 110 year old house after all.    Needless to say, we're hoping at this point to get home before the new keep your fingers crossed for us!  I'm supposed to get back to part-time teaching in January...stay tuned.  
Life on Nantucket has been so nice, of course.  Still living simple and slow with the baby boy.  He just turned 8 months and is crawling all about!  Makes me more tired and is also throwing a wrench in the groove I had going with yoga.  Up until last weekend I hadn't been to a public class in almost 2 weeks.  Not cool.  On Saturday I had an empowering class with the awesome Clay Twombly, who reminded me just how strong and able I was with his mindful, creative, lovely flow.  I'm a yogini who needs more than ever a real, live public class at least once a week these days to keep the groove alive for my own personal practice.  I do still try to fit in at least 20 min. of some sort of yoga a day, but that doesn't always happen.  
I must say, since having Isak, I've never felt more like a student of yoga since I began studying it years and years ago!  This is a good thing.  Being away from the large, sometimes oversaturated Boston yoga scene has provided me with the chance to discover what it is in my practice that I truly love.  I'm not just teaching to teach right now (not that I ever do, but you get what I mean?), and I have no major routine.  I take it day to day, as the baby allows, and it's all teaching me so, so much.  It's making me think about how and what I want to continue studying in the next 5-10 years (some of which include: getting my 500 hour certification, yin yoga, more about energy/bodywork, and yoga therapy).  There are subjects galore and it can be overwhelming.  Now that my time is much more precious, my biggest challenge remains to stay focused and positive, and not to dwell on the small stuff (i.e. don't get overwhelmed with all the options out there, all the teachers...).  
Okay, time for my nerd alert moment--do you ever watch NOVA on PBS?  There's this series right now called The Fabric of the Cosmos that my husband and I have been watching.  Last week, it was about time/space and I discovered that we all have our own "time."  So, yes, though we all have the same hours in the day...we all do really have our own minute difference in time according to our space and make-up.  (wish I could explain better, but just watch it for yourself)  Ha!  
I encourage you all to try, with me, to find your own time.  Discover how and with what you want to fill up your day, and see how it goes.  Yoga has so much to teach us, but I am most thankful these days for the time I get on my mat to feel exactly that.  My own time.  Even if you were on your mat at the same moment as I, we'd still be there in our own time.  Cherish it and go with it, and see what the rest of your 2011 will bring.  

Some things to check out:

--New Mama Recharge with Michelle Pfenninghaus of Find Your Balance
  This is for all new mamas of children 2 and under.  This is a FREE tele-community series coming up in January for us new mamas to discuss what it is that will rev us up as we rev up another being.  Check it out and join me in on it, too.  

--Savor Your Existence Health --Dillan is a Somerville based holistic nutritionist who has been helping my little family stay on the health track both physically with food ideas and mentally with goal talks.  

--Isobel & Cleo --super fantastic knitwear by a hip, Nantucket gal.  I met her at the farmers market this summer and just got my first purchase...a versatile scarf/wrap/hooded thing.  I love, love it.  

--the latest at Karma Yoga Studio and Bow Street Yoga for my friends and fellow teachers offering fun workshops and classes to help you along.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yin-Halloween Playlist

Last night I taught a public yoga class for the first time since giving birth!  That means over 9 months ago...
And let me tell you, it was so needed.  I felt at home.  I felt that pull of energy that is offered up from my heart every time I step in front of a class.  You all know by now what I've been up to since Isak was born.  How my little family and I have been living out here on Nantucket for 4 months (and counting) until our house is renovated back in Boston.  I haven't had the chance to jump back into teaching yet, so when this opportunity came up to sub for Paul at The Yoga Room, I was all about it.  And I love yin.  It's the season to begin diving back into a more yin mode.
Anyway, 8 wonderful yoga students showed up and we sank into our joints and tissues with compassion and ease, while listening to this new playlist I conjured up for the occasion.
And students back home?  I offered it up to you, too!  Happy Halloween everyone!

1. Altt i Guddi:  Olof Arnalds
2. We Have a Map of the Piano:  Mum
3. Near Light:  Olafur Arnalds
4. Virus:  Bjork
5. Frysta:  Olafur Arnalds
6. Saint Naive:  Jonsi
7. What are we Waiting For?:  Amiina
8. Agust:  Olafur Arnalds
9. Warm:  Arms and Sleepers
10. Cosmogony:  Bjork
11. This Place is a Shelter:  Olafur Arnalds
12. The Beautiful Ones:  The Battle of Land and Sea
13. Icicle Sleeve:  Jonsi
14. Lag Fyrir Ommu:  Olafur Arnalds
15. Thunderbolt:  Bjork
16. New Piano Song:  Jonsi
17. All the Big Trees:  Jonsi & Alex
18. Tomorrow's Song:  Olafur Arnalds
19. Indian Summer:  Jonsi & Alex
20. Moon:  Bjork

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sequence to Open the Hips/Chest

Earlier this week I did a longer and more intense practice that left me a bit sore and tight for the couple of days that followed.  So yesterday I decided to dedicate the physical part of my practice to releasing some tension in my hips and opening up my chest.  After a long, slow warm-up consisting of mindful sun salutations, crescent lunges with back knee down, some gentle backbends such as locust pose...I began this sequence:

-from tadasana (mountain pose), step into virabhadrasana II (warrior 2).  Breathe slowly into trikonasana (triangle) and hold.
-transition with the breath to prasarita padottanasana(wide-legged forward fold).  After a few breaths here, keep the head down and begin to swivel the feet so that you end up facing the front of your mat and finding a slightly shorter stance for parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose).
-in parsvottanasana, come to fingertips to the mat with neck steady and level, so as to open the pectoral muscles while stretching the hips/hamstrings and strengthening the ankles and back.
-next transition into ardha chandrasana (half moon).  Whichever foot is more forward, take that hand and walk it out and up a few inches.  Once setting your drishti (gaze), begin to lift the back foot off the mat, opening the hip, chest, and top arm for a deep side stretch/chest opener.
-without losing your focus, move from half moon directly into urdhva muka eka pada rajakapotasana (half pigeon).  This means the foot in the air will (as gracefully as you can manage) return to the back of the mat and your hips will square to the mat as you prep your knee, arms, hips for the pose.  Hold half pigeon longer than any of the other poses.  Maybe add a twist, stay upright, fold arms behind you, or take king pigeon.  Listen to where you need to be.  When ready to come out of it, lift arms out and up until palms meet over head for another slight back bend, then plant hands to the mat on both sides to come out into adho muka svanasana (downward facing dog).
-stay in down dog for a few breaths, then end in balasana (child's pose) for as long as you need before starting the same sequence on the other side.

After practicing this sequence on both sides, I suggest rounding out the practice with at least one deep forward fold, one nice twist, and maybe an inversion before resting in savasana.


October on Island

Mid-October here on Nantucket, and it's a blustery but sunny and perfect temperature day.  It's been a week of rain, cloudy days, walks in the breeze, new colors peeking about, new music to cook, bake, and practice yoga to.  We've made a few new friends here on the island.  We've now been here 3 1/2 months and still have 1 1/2 or so to go, so it's nice to know people to call up.  Our home in Somerville has gone through ups and downs during this energy retrofitting and construction phase.  We think we're over the last hump and just trying to relax and wait it out now until our early December move-back-in.
New music?  Well, it's been Iceland Airwaves week across the Atlantic...and oh how I wish I could have been there for the incredible line-up.  My dear friends, Nina and Sam, are there taking it all in for me!  Bjork, the queen goddess of unique, vibrant, melodic splendor released her Biophilia this week (on the full moon day at that) so I've been listening all week.  My faves are the songs Virus, Crystalline, Moon, and Thunderbolt though the entire album is wonderful.  Plus, if you haven't checked out Olafur Arnald's latest free Living Room Songs, do so immediately.  Near Light makes me want to run out into the moors and jump/dance with all the love I have.  And Lag Fyrir Ommu will make you miss dear ones and remember the grace they portrayed on you.  The combination of all of this music made for new creative sequencing in my yoga practice and centering vibes this week.  As always, thank you Iceland for the music that you provide to us all!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

1 Year Married to my Love

A year ago today, we were married on the most perfect autumn day here on Nantucket.  It was an intimate, joyous, spirit-filled gathering and today we go back to the same spot with our boy.  How beautiful life can be.  We've had the most full year of our lives, and we are grateful for so much love.

*We also remember Grandma Frances Paulson today.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yoga during women's Moon time

Yoga happenings as of late have been scattered as usual in my mommy life.  I've been focusing on reclaiming a strong sirsana (headstand), so I'm at least doing that every day.  Feels great!  When I can't make it to a real class (which I did not this week), I practice at home for sure, and sometimes you just need an extra push my someone else doing the thinking.  There are a variety of podcasts or videos one can choose from.  I love my friend Sarah's!  She is such a skilled teacher and since I miss seeing her and taking her class in person, well, these are the next best thing.  Plus, they are free (though I highly suggest donating if you plan to do them on a regular basis)!  You can find the link at the upper corner of this here blog.  I did a nice 50 min. slow flow the other day that hit the spot.
Today, however, it's my Moon time.  Yes, I mean menstrual flow.  All of us women get it, no shame in bringing it up here!  And yes, I am one of the 10% or so of breastfeeding mothers who actually get theirs regularly (and have been since month 2 pp).  Glad to know, right? ')  Anyway, no headstands for me today.  The full moon is approaching in a few days and it's time for me to honor rest in my body.  As Isak naps, I just did a long stint in child's pose, some down dog, some hanging forward fold.  Add on a couple of very slow vinyasas then holding some forward folds, such as janu sirsana, parsvotanasana, and paschimottanasana.  Ending with gentle legs up the couch (onto pillows)!
Sarah's podcasts inspire me to make one someday (hopefully in the year to come) for exactly this--a woman's moon time.  It's left out of classes much too often and women should feel encouraged to take it however they choose.
Here's to healthy menstrual flows!

Now off to a delightful autumn island weekend:  time spent with Isak's grandparents, cranberry festival, farmers market, Yogawoman viewing with Nantucket yoginis, my 1st wedding anniversary with my love (and hopefully date night out!), and gratitude.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting into a new Flow with the first Autumn New Moon

I had planned to attend Clay's vinyasa class at The Yoga Room this morning...but my 6 1/2 month old boy decided he wanted to nurse 30 min. before class started.  I did zoom there but clocking in at 7 minutes too late, well, that is not so cool when it's a pretty full class already.  So, I began to head back home but it was a brilliant morning and heck, I already had the time to myself slotted, so why not head to the beach?  Nantucket is splendid this time of year.  I was the only person on the beach.  With water bottle and yoga mat in tow, I took some solitude to honor the Libra New Moon and work on balancing asanas.  A butterfly greeted me, seabirds twitted about, and then just as I was entering nataranjasana, a sweet seal swam up to greet me!  The sea sparkled and I am grateful.  So THIS is how one flows.  So happy I didn't just head home.  Learning to find balance in life is probably the hardest thing humans attempt, but yoga (and striving to live your yoga) is one of the only ways I have experienced it to be somewhat possible.  These days I find myself doing yoga asanas on walks while Isak is in the baby bjorn, in front of the tv if my husband and I want to watch something, out on the deck while baby is sleeping in his when I do have time slotted to myself just for me, well I better use it to breathe and move my body intuitively.
I am awakened a bit from the weekend, when the uber inspiring, down to earth, so experienced yogis of the White Lotus Foundation came to lead a retreat.  Ganga White and Tracey Rich were here to teach 3 days of asana, pranayama, meditation.  I was only able to sign up for the Saturday morning session, but I was so happy that I did!  I have not taken a workshop with such "high profile" yogis in the longest time where there was no ounce of ego from either of them, and I felt at ease and connected to learning new ways of looking at the breath and asanas.  I have been thinking about it ever since and am already scheming in my brain how I can study with them again someday.  Thank you Caitlin Marcoux for getting them to come here and share their energies!
With these last couple of days of listening to myself and doing what I feel, it's a strong Libra New Moon message.  I am ready to start a new cycle and to stop beating myself up.  As a new mom, life can be confusing and it's easy to get caught up in the rat race of shoulds and should nots.  I've felt a little lost at times knowing that I'm not back to teaching yet in Boston, I'm not working on marketing myself...will my students remember me?  Will I still be a desirable teacher?  Will I move out of mommy brain fog and remember how to be a smooth, knowledgable teacher?  Of course I will.  But it's taken me 6 months to find my flow again (in yoga practice, in motherhood, in who I am) and well, maybe it will take 6 more to get back to my teaching groove.  I don't care for the new competitiveness of the yoga world.  It leaves new mommies who like to live a simple life feeling like they don't exist anymore.  There's always a hot new yogini to take my place.
When thoughts like this enter my realm, I go back to the books I'm reading at the moment (Yoga as Medicine, Living Your Yoga, Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World) and I take it all in.  I look at my sweet, beautiful, fun baby boy and I take it all in.  I kiss my supportive and amazing husband and I take it all in.  This is what my life is about right now.  My flow is a slow flow.  I will return to the fast paced flow soon enough and then I will yearn for this slow life back.  That's usually how it works, right?  But maybe I'm learning.  Maybe I'll hold on to some of this slowness and bring it back to the city.  Balance.  For now, I eat a little chocolate each day, dance with the flowers, feel the wind in my warrior, and love it just as it is.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn Equinox!

Here we go again...into a new season, and a new time for change.  The Libra New Moon is approaching and today is the time to bring life back to balance after the carefree time of summer.  Let's plant new internal seeds for more peace, joy, prosperity in our lives and let go of loneliness, confusion, chaos.

These photos are from last weekend (when dear friends were visiting and we made flower essences from the garden) up until yesterday (where my family and I stumbled upon an elf house in the woods).  Isak ended up on the mat with me after his nap, at the end of my practice!  We sent our energy out for the new season together.  Nantucket is so much like Iceland on days like this.  Fog and mist surround us here, and all glows with magic.

"When love speaks to you, believe in it, though its voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden."  --From The Prophet

Friday, September 9, 2011

End of Summer Update

Hi hi my yoga friends,

I think of all of you SO very much.  It's true!  Random visions of many of you will pop into my brain when I'm practicing or when taking a class.  I'll see all of your different versions/alignments of asanas, I'll feel the energy from an old class if I'm practicing to an old playlist, or I'll hear some of your voices asking questions or telling me stories.  This is all proof for how much I miss teaching and how much it's such a part of me.  Since becoming a mother, I feel an even deeper urge to DO something more with teaching.  To create something that will take it to another level.  This is my new journey and I am excited to see what may come of it.  
DO share your latest yoga stories with me!  It will help me reconnect with you all and still be around (sort of).  Where are you practicing?  What has changed in your practice?  Anything you'd like to see different for when I do return?  Would love to hear your thoughts.  

So, I say final Summer update because it IS still summer ya know?  Maybe not in the sense of school or vacations or whatnot, and maybe the weather is changing, but we do have 2 more true weeks of summer left.  I hope you're all enjoying it in various ways and preparing to celebrate the coming season with a new spirit of patience and east.  
And patience?  Well, I talked a bit about it in the last blog post.  And now I need it even more, as we have found out that the work on our home in Somerville is probably going to last until November!  November?!  I won't be returning home until then, and maybe not even back to teaching til sometime after that?  Ugh.  Okay, deep breath, and again, patience.  

One thing that is very cool about this?  We get to continue living on the "faraway island" of Nantucket!  Now that it's beginning to be off-season here, we are much more on our own, with fewer visitors, and less people and tourists around.  It's really been special to be here all summer.  And now instead of being back to the daily grind, we get a couple more months to take in the magic of this land.  And to do it in autumn!  Plus, we got married here almost one year ago, and it will be lovely to celebrate here again, now with our little Isak.  
Another positive about getting to stay here longer?  More time to continue cultivating my practice.  If I were back in town again, I'd have millions of "things to do" on my schedule.  Out here I get to practice when I make the effort to, which has been often (yay!), around 5-6 days a week.  I'm so much stronger now (6 months postpartum)...hello chaturanga and continued vinyasas!  Still just working on getting some inversions back and such, but am in no rush to hurry on the advanced asanas.  In time.  
Luckily, I get to keep attending class at The Yoga Room.  It's such a peaceful studio with skilled teachers.  It's a joy to find a presence there and develop some relationship with the community over here.  Thank you Bettina, Sally, Paul, Elizabeth, Caitlin, Shannah, Clay...

Next time I write, it will be the new season and we'll all be in a new place internally, yet again.  Do connect with me on facebook or on here if you haven't already.

So, here's to fun yoga, new experiences, bright futures for us all.  

love, love,


P.S.  My possible Family-oriented Yoga Vacay to St. Lucia-2012 is still in the cards.  If you or others you may know might be interested, contact me as soon as you can!  The earlier I know of interested folks, the easier it will be for me to make it happen.  Plan is for first week of March...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh, and a few more fun photos!

Since I won't be back to teaching in the Cambridge and Somerville areas until mid-fall, I'll try to update with more photos from time to time.  Isak is 5 1/2 months now and we're all doing great!

Practice, Practice, and August brings Patience

Here is my day so far....
Wake up with my boys sometime around 7:30.  Play and relax a bit with morning smoothie, coffee, and try to see if I can make it to the morning yoga class.  Not in the cards today due to timing, but ended up becoming a blessing because I got to do a full (I mean almost 90 min. of yoga) practice outside in a shady spot with my husband painting and my baby sleeping next to me.  What bliss!  For this to have happened was such a gift because rarely does the nap schedule of Isak fall into place just so...where I can get in a full practice (usually it's 20 min. here, 30 min. there, etc.).  Plus, for our whole little family to get to be together in the same space (near my mother in law's beautiful garden!) doing what we love for a piece of the morning... so rejuvenating.

You see, we've not been succeeding too well as of the last couple of weeks in keeping to our goals of the day.  My practice has been inconsistent for various reasons and it started to get my spirits down.  It can be hard enough to figure out time management as an individual, but then throw in an infant and try to get things done!  I now totally feel for and relate to all parents (especially you, Mom's) out there.  You'd think it'd be easy for us out here on Nantucket.  We are out of our usual weekly work during this time of transition, and it's amazingly peaceful of course.  We have had a lot of family around and visitors, plus my Isak and I just took a week long trip to Philly to see the Pici crew.  So, trying to schedule in everything we need to get done as well as personal time while also needing to visit with family members and tend to everyday things (cooking, laundry, cleaning up); well it can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Having an infant, may, above all other things, teach you patience.  For now at least, time is on his little hands.  Isak can only tell me what he needs through cries, gurgles, and facial expressions.  Learning them is the best thing in the world.  Sometimes I end up spending much longer than I should just holding him or sitting and playing with him, when I could be getting things done.  Another yogini mom friend of mine sent out an article this week about parenthood.  In it, the author discussed this very issue of 'being in the moment,' because your babies just move forward and grow so fast.  So I am working on letting go of dirty clothes, diapers, unwritten emails, missed chances of reading that article or searching for new music, because I don't need not doing those things bringing me down.  This is the time for me to be slow at life.  To be off the radar for a bit.
This doesn't mean I don't get time for ME each day.  And that is a whole new concept I am figuring out and trying to incorporate into this new life.  It simply means I have to be patient with myself, my baby, and my husband.  I have to manage time in a whole new way, and be okay if things don't go as planned.  And then some days, like today, it all just falls into place.  Ahh!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mid-Summer Update

Greetings everyone,

Here we are in mid-July already!  The summer is flying by and up until now it has been quite the eventful and busy one.  June brought the eclipses upon us and with them, lots of work.  My family and I spent the month packing up our entire house and loading it into a pod in our driveway so that construction work could begin in early July.  We made the decision during my pregnancy that we'd create a more comfortable, energy-efficient house for our new family.  Let me tell you, "moving" with a 3 month old takes three times longer than normal.  On top of that, my grandfather passed away mid-June, bringing sadness and an inward state of mind.  We then had two weekends in a row of weddings to attend before finally completing our house pack-up and heading here to Nantucket for the rest of the summer.  Luckily, the weddings were for dear friends and were padded with extra support from such friends on our house.  The sleep-deprivation, stress, and just overall lack of energy since giving birth have weakened my immune system in the process, and I've now had a couple eye infections and a week-long bad cold.  But things are for sure looking up.  
I am grateful that I've been able to stay emotionally stable and positive through this all.  In fact, I turned 30 on the very day we headed to Nantucket, and it was as if the Universe had been telling me to get away for awhile all along!  I can now rest in the quiet of nature out here in the moors of this very special island.  The sounds of the birds at 4:00 every morning (a usual hour when I am awake nursing my boy) are so joyful and life-affirming.  I also love the new sounds of the whippoorwill at night!  Have you ever heard this bird?  It's a new favorite.  Plus, we've discovered a hummingbird nesting in the top of a pine cone on the tree right outside our bedroom window.  She has become a part of our life and we are constantly checking to see if she's there and she and her eggs are okay.  It's more than beautiful.  On top of all this wildlife, there are such lovely and colorful sunsets, the smell of the sea, less internet and phone connections, and lots of helping hands as of late from my husband's family for whom we've been staying.  It's nice to finally get a chance to read, listen to music, take a bath, and do YOGA!  
Yes, Yoga.  I've been mostly practicing in our little cottage and outside, at every little chance I get (see photo attached of me doing gomukhasana arms with Isak napping on my legs).  I am also excited that I just got a 10 class card to The Yoga Room, a very nice studio over here on the island.  I had been hoping to host a weekend workshop or retreat over here this summer.  However, I realized that not only was I a little late in making contacts, but I was not yet ready to lead a group when I am still in the early stages of finding my own practice again.  For instance, I went to a vinyasa class over here last week that left me sore for nearly 4 days!  I mean, I have been practicing since Isak's birth, but definitely not tons of chaturangas and warriors in a that class hit me hard.  I am drawn now to more balanced efforts of a slower flow, yin, and hatha style these days and am for sure feeling stronger every day.  
So, my pose of the moment is Chaturanga Dandasana, and moving back and forth from high plank into it.  It's not only working my core but my shoulders, chest, and back.  What are some of your poses of the summer?  Do share with me!  I miss seeing everyone at Karma Yoga Studio in Cambridge or Bow Street Yoga in Somerville.  I had hoped to return to teaching in September, but the contractors are are not certain as to the end date of the project on our house.  So at this point in time it is looking more like my return will be later in the fall than anticipated (October or even November).  This only means I will have more time to get re-yogafied and ready to guide you all on the mat again.  
Plus, we must not forget my Isak!  He is now in the seriously cute stage of learning to roll over, laugh a lot, sleeping more at night, and being generally happy.  Every second is a wonder and I would have it no other way.  Having the chance to spend at least the first 6 months of his life with no work obligations is rare and beautiful.  I am so very grateful to get to do it.  David and I are simply taking in and loving our new life as parents.  Living on an island for a few months sure helps with that!  

Things of interest:

Reading:  Living Your Yoga by Judith Hansen Lasater.  My favorite discussion in it so far is about discipline.  It's such a good lesson in my new life transition now, and she talks about it in much more surprising and enjoyable ways.  
"Whether you are driven or resistant, the medicine is the same: do what is truly possible with unwavering commitment to giving yourself to the moment.  Without this intention, practice becomes another task to be completed and it loses its ability to transform."  

Listening to:  Carefully Taught--a jazz album by my amazing Somerville neighbor, Ruthie Ristich.  
I'm also anxiously awaiting Bjork's new album!

Planning: Family Friendly Yoga and Wellness Vacation in St. Lucia!  March 2012
--I have already sent out the details via email, but if you never received that email, let me know.  I will also do another post soon with more.  I am very excited about this possibility and would love to have any of you with your sweet little family to join me and mine!
$1650 per person--single occupancy
$1295 per person--double occupancy
If children are staying in the room with parents (ie don't take a bed that could be occupied by an adult) then the accommodations are free.  If a second bedroom is needed for children we'll have to work out a room rate, something as such:

Children 0-2 TOTALLY FREE (unless they require a separate room....)
Children 3-12 $250 (again, unless they require a separate room...)
Children 12 and up Depends on accommodations and cottage availability

Alrighty friends, that's it!  It's been some time since I had written so thanks for reading and being a part of my yoga life.  If you find yourself over here on Nantucket in the coming months, I am available for private yoga sessions, or simply to meet up for a tea and a hello.  
Sending lots of summer energy and love your way!!  

Til soon,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brand New Summer Playlist

I'm practicing to this set of tunes lately.  And trying to focus on a mindful, slow, strengthening flow.  Getting into those creaks in my back, hips, legs that scream at me from too much baby holding/bending/sitting.  And working carefully on those abs.
I look forward to sharing my new insights about the body when I return to that post on the mat in front of a class in a couple more months.   More importantly, sharing the new insights that have developed in my mental state, and the pure, ecstatic joy of love that a baby brings!
A year ago, I was in Iceland with a select few on my yoga adventure that took us all to new growth & magic within.  And then my Isak came to my body.  This playlist was inspired from those memories.  And now this summer is so brand new.

Summer Fog--The Album Leaf
Because of the Blood--Sin Fang
Blank Pages--The Album Leaf
Easier--Sin Fang
Within Dreams--The Album Leaf
Slow Lights--Sin Fang
Full Moon--Efterklang
Calgary--Bon Iver
Stand Still--The Album Leaf
Sing From Dream--Sin Fang
Until the Last--The Album Leaf
Tied Knots--The Album Leaf
Iridescence--Hildur Gudnadottir

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just saying playlist coming soon!

Hi friends,

Haven't had many moments to get on this here blog with things to say.  I've had various ideas come to me in the last few weeks about new topics to discuss, but haven't had the chance to write it down and now can't remember what all they were (that's what motherhood will do to ya)!
Isak is 3 months now and we're settling into each other with such love.  He has become more alert, more happy, and cuter than ever.  I've had some time to get out to yoga classes and this evening we had family yoga time where my husband, Isak, and I all did yoga.  It will remain a challenge to continue to make time for myself like I used to, but my new life is just the lesson in yoga I need right now.
I won't be back to teaching until September or October, depending, so until then, I hope to rebuild my practice, my yogic vocab, and meditation.
I have some new playlists swirling around (and those ideas...), so I do hope to make time to update on here a couple times a month this summer.  Wishing you all a beautiful lead-in to the full moon and the summer solstice ahead in the next week and days.  xxo

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Late Spring Update

Hi dear friends,

I'm a little late this month with this newsletter, but as I'm quickly finding out, that's the way it goes now that I have a baby!  His needs come first.  All is well and I'm slowly getting used to my new schedule...wait, I mean, lack there of.  Ha!  Have been able to jump to just a couple of public yoga classes thus far.  Still mostly fitting in what I can at home when baby Isak is sleeping or in a good mood.  I'm feeling stronger and slowly more like myself each day.  
I hope all of you aren't too bummed from the consistent rain and cooler weather so far this May.  Summer is just around the corner and all of this is gonna make just that much more sweet, I think.  We just returned from a much needed trip to visit our families in PA and NY, which included lots of grandma/grandpa love and proved we CAN travel with this little person at a fairly easy rate.  It just takes lots more planning and time.  
I have decided that I will not be getting back to teaching until end of summer/early fall.  This is due to personal family-time reasons (such as getting some work done on our house) and also just wanting to spend as much time taking in these first precious months as possible!  I may still teach a little bit on Nantucket later in the summer, so I'll let you all know if that pans out.  Also, I'm trying to post on here more if I can find the time and feel like I have something to say.  ;)  

Keep taking in all the yoga you can to prep yourself for the warm months ahead and counter all of your outdoor activities.  I recommend lots of basic ragdoll and slow sun salutations if you've begun to jog, cycle, or hike more.  You gotta keep those hamstrings, calves, and hips oiled up to prevent stiffness and injury!

Finally, my beautiful friend from yoga and beyond, Jenny, is hosting her art illustrations this weekend at the baby boutique, Bird by Bird in Inman Square, Cambridge.  It's this Sunday, May 22nd in the afternoon/evening.  I love this boutique (especially now) and love Jenny's work even more.  Maybe I'll even catch some of you there?  (See attached invitation for more details)

Keep enjoying life and staying inspired.  
Much love to you all,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nurture, and Be Nurtured

I was extremely lucky last week.  My entire energy field was treated by the 4 hands of the talented and lovely Chanel Luck and Anna Whiting in a double craniosacral therapy treatment.  All I can say is, Wow.  It was magic.  I had gone way too long without doing something so nurturing for myself.  And now after healing from the birth and giving my son tons of nurturing love, it was emotionally and mentally necessary that I received some of that same kind of nurturing.  I've experienced reiki, regular massage, shiatsu, thai massage, but had never gotten to experience craniosacral therapy.  I've known Chanel for about 4 years now and had always meant to get this from her.  Chanel is one of the brightest, most passionate, fun-loving, caring of women that I know.  I'll never forget when I first met her after moving to Boston.  We were sitting next to each other at a bar one weekend night and when she overheard me mention yoga, she introduced herself.  Openly talking about yoga in a bar...we knew that each other were cool.  ;)  I soon after signed up for her Art of Alignment & Assisting Training, which allowed me to move even deeper in my practice and teaching, plus meet new friends.  Ever since, Chanel has been one of the biggest trailblazers in Boston for the yoga community.  She has such a powerful prana to vibe from and is such an inspiration.  After my treatment last week, I now remember why.
Her beautiful friend, Anna, was visiting from Australia.  They studied craniosacral together and so sometimes are fortunate enough to get the chance to perform a double-handed treatment on people.  I had no idea what to expect.  Once finally getting my baby to relax to sleep, I had about 30 minutes to bliss out.  I got on the table, closed my eyes, and allowed their energies to soothe me.  After setting mindful intentions, the music of my favorite film entered my ears.  They had put on the Whale Rider soundtrack! Having never heard the soundtrack, but having been moved by the film so deeply, I instantly recognized it.  Something about the combination of that and their immediate touch, so full of love...I could barely keep it together.  All that had been knotted up inside (both joyful and overwhelming energies) started to release.  By the end, I felt like I was floating on water or resting on clouds.  Anna and Chanel had the power to soothe and connect to exactly what I needed with the most delicate, subtle, yet powerful qualities in their talent.  They are mothers in their own way and to so many that they touch.  By the very end of my session with them, I was able to let go a flood of tears and be embraced by the reminder that nurturing oneself is something everyone needs.

It's been a challenging time, this new motherhood business.  It's the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced.  I look at baby Isak every day in awe that he came from my husband and I, and just how special he is.  At the same time, I sometimes mourn my old days of being able to hop on my mat without interruptions and do all those things from my "old" life.  I knew that becoming a mom would be all of these things.  I am one of five, and I've seen the hard work and the delicate balance my Mom has had to walk on.  There are times for crying out of pure exhaustion, out of loneliness, confusion about what do...but then there are times for crying from a simple smile that your child flashes, the feel of their touch, and just knowing how much love there is between you and them.
I know my Mom rarely takes time to nurture herself in the ways that she truly needs.  Of course it's just now that we're all grown that she can take more time for herself.  Even now she's still busy as a grandmother and helping all of us figure out adulthood.  I've also seen my sister become a mom.  She came to visit last weekend and we both got a chance to relate to one another and spend some good one on one time without the babes (restorative yoga class!).  Now that I am a mom, I understand it all so much more and realize just how cool Mother's Day truly is.  Even if you aren't a mom, we all have one and we can all identify with these feelings.  There's always something we are "mothering" in life.  When you think of it that way, it makes you appreciate your real life mother figure even more.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Postpartum weight loss Hubbaloo

It's different for every new mom, but the pressure to return to your old self, physically, is annoying.  Even though your loved ones and friends say otherwise, the unspoken pressure is there.  Our culture demands it. I never thought I'd give into it.  Well, at least I wanted to not give into it.  But, there's no way around it.  I have good days where I don't give a crap and then most days I feel frumpy, soft, ugly...nothing fits or looks good on and though everyone says I look great, I just can't believe them.

I created the most beautiful baby boy so why do I even waste my time on this petty BS?!  I wonder that myself.  Hmmph.  Maybe if I was a more robust woman to begin with, then I wouldn't notice or feel that judgement from others.  But, it's super hard to have been someone who has worked hard her entire life to be an athlete and be in shape.  I feel like I'm a teenager/early 20's again.  That's when I used to care, too.  But the deeper I got into my yoga practice, the more I learned to let go of all that stuff.  And then the last 2 years or so have been even better it seems, because I found love and learned to live life even more true and not be so strict about my practice, my diet, etc.  And I got pregnant!  Just when it all came together and I didn't quite think about those things anymore.
I was so excited to get pregnant.  And going in, I had all these thoughts of the type of pregnant yogini woman I would be.  Yeah, that didn't happen.  Life doesn't work that way.  You can't predict or force how it all turns out.  I was super nauseated and tired for 2 months.  I couldn't teach as much, I couldn't hardly practice, and all I wanted to eat were carbs.  So, the weight started piling on.  You couldn't necessarily tell because it was discreet (adding slowly to my hips and thighs before my belly).  But, by half way through the pregnancy, I had already gained upward 20 pounds and I still had a long way to go.  I remember doing the Shiva Rea prenatal dvd and she had said in the beginning that she gained 50 pounds during a pregnancy, and you just have to do what feels right to you.  You see, that's just it.  I was doing that!  I was hungry for crying out loud!  It was winter and I was too tired and cold to drudge out in the snow for exercise.  All I did was yoga, which slowly tapered as it went on to be more and more gentle.  I felt strong, though.  As I knew my strength in certain muscle groups was diminishing, I also knew that my baby was strong and I had that foundation there.  I stopped caring at some point because my midwife told me not too and that my weight gain was fine.  And with the huge belly by the end, it all sort of works out proportionally.
And you all know my birth story (read the previous blog post).  I had an amazing all natural birth.  The nurses kept raving about how strong my baby's heart was the entire labor.  And how strong I was.  So, why do I care now that I carry all this extra weight postpartum?  It will come off at some point...

I guess because I look in the mirror and I don't recognize myself.  At least when Isak was still inside of me, it was me, just with him in there, too.  Now, it's me with a lot of extra baggage!  You see, I gained 50 pounds.  Yes, my boobs are bigger now, but my belly, thighs, hips, booty are all bigger too.  Ha!  When I practice yoga now, I still feel like my old self in many ways.  I have the flexibility in most poses and my underlying strength is still there.  But just as it took me 9 months to pile all the weight on, it's probably going to take the same to get it off!  And it's going to take time to rebuild my practice.  Headstand?  Crow?  Side plank?  Yeah, I'll meet you again.  In fact, I'll probably be a better teacher because of all this.  I have to re-learn many things and now I can relate to beginners even more.  When I get back to teaching in a few months, I know I'll be grateful for the whole experience.

So, new mamas out there, try not to hold yourself up to the standards of our society and other people around you.  I'm trying to do the same.  Who cares if so and so in Hollywood is back in a bikini after 3 months.  I have a real, healthy body with no extra help around.  I have to figure out life with this new creature on my own (with my husband of course, who fantastically thinks I'm beautiful any which way), find time to work out, cook healthy meals, sleep, and just function.  Just yesterday I was dreading the summer and having to put on a bathing suit or shorts.  But, let me take all my new cellulite, my soft belly with the dark line down the middle, my wide hips, my no longer sculpted arms and bring it!  It's the question of our time...what defines beauty?  Well, maybe it's a woman on the verge of turning 30 who usually  embraces all sorts of bodies, and who now, after giving birth,  must learn to embrace her own again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Birthing Experience

Three weeks ago today I gave birth to my strong baby boy.  Time has already flown and I've decided to document the happenings of that magical day as requested by friends/family, as well as for my own sake.  So here we go:

My 40 week  due date was Friday, March 11.  I had had the feeling that my baby was to come a little bit early since I had been feeling symptoms of labor for a couple weeks already.  And he was pressing so much on my pelvic region with each step I took.  As usual, people kept calling or writing to see if I was giving birth yet or if anything was happening.  Turns out, my little guy was just extremely punctual and wanted to come exactly on time!  After just a couple hours of sleep, early that Friday morning around 1:30 am, I woke to use the toilet and discovered my mucous plug had started releasing.  I began feeling surges and crampiness that existed at a regular pattern and so I laid there the rest of that early morning knowing that everything was beginning.  I tried to sleep more but those waves of uterine contractions make that a little difficult.  Somewhere between 5-6am, my water started releasing.  It happened in a couple of gushes within those morning hours.  I texted my sister (who has a toddler) and then we ended up talking it all out, which was of such help.  Then I called my doula, who wanted me to start timing the surges before we did anything else.  And so by 7 or so I woke my husband.  I figured he should at least be rested somewhat!  I was hungry so I ate some toast and drank some berry juice, but my anxiety about throwing up during labor prevented me from eating much of anything else.
By this point, it's not too hard to simply focus and breathe slowly through each surge.  I talked with my mom a few times, alerted my best friends, and just kept going with it.  We discovered the surges were only about 3 min. apart but they were less than 1 minute in length, which meant I was in the early stages of labor.  By 10:30am or so, they were definitely 1 minute long, so my doula headed our way.  I got in the shower to rinse and feel nice and then parked it by my bed with my birthing playlist on.  Spent lots of time on my knees over the bed to breathe through each wave.  Our doula arrived and helped us keep things light and positive.  We eventually decided to try to get out for a walk.  It was a gray day with misty rain (very Icelandic) and it felt like just the right kind of day for this baby to want to come out.  In my old sweatshirt and sweatpants, uggs, glasses on, and hair in a messy ponytail, we ventured outside.  We made it down the block and back which was a success since every couple of minutes I had to stop and hang on to my husband to concentrate and breathe through.  Upon coming back in, I tried to eat some avocado on toast and drink more juice and water.  We made a plan and decided we'd leave for the hospital in the 2:00 hour.
Getting in the car to leave was strange and hard because I knew that the simple walk from front door to car might take awhile due to the surges.  Luckily the ride to Mt. Auburn Hospital is not very long from our house, but the bumps in the road were pretty unpleasant at this point.  All in all, I was still in a pretty upbeat mood and just taking it one at a time.  We arrived close to 3:00 and went straight up to the delivery floor.  They took us to our room and we began to settle in.  The nurses and the midwife on call were all very friendly and kind.  I settled in so they could do the initial fetal monitoring.  After 20 min. or so it came off and I was able to freely move around.  My husband put on the ipod and I was soothed throughout the evening with all of my favorite mellow music (Jonsi & Alex, Krisha Das, Mum, Leona Naess, Sigur Ros, Amiina...).  For someone with such a strong affinity to her music, this was huge and so important!  I also began focusing on all of the things my dear friends who had done this before me had told me.  So, I began to drink water between each surge diligently and I tuned into that place that I teach about in my yoga classes.  If I didn't know where that place was, I might not have been able to last as long as I did.  I am pretty certain of this.
Our doula had me sitting up in kind of like a butterfly pose.  I also stood up leaning over the bed, slow danced with my husband, sat on the exercise ball, got in cat/cow on the bed, etc.  Since my water had released and my surges were so close together, they did not do an internal exam.  We all figured I would push this baby out by evening.  Well, once evening came (say between 7-8 pm), things were more or less the same.  The midwife on duty was switching and so were the nurses.  Our new midwife suggested she do a pelvic internal exam so we can assess the situation better.  If only we had done it earlier...
She discovered that his head was very far down but baby was turned on his side and my cervix was still behind the head and I was only about 3 1/2 cm dilated!  Imagine the mental state this put me in.  I had already worked so hard for so many hours with a positive attitude through the most intense physical feelings I had ever felt and so to hear I had a long way to go was devastating.
I saw glimpses of negativity in my mind and had moments of wanting to breakdown and sob or give up. But, who are we kidding...I am a strong, healthy, brilliant woman that couldn't wait to finally hold this baby!  And even when it got harder than anything else I have ever experienced, I knew that staying focused and calm was the only way to make it through.  Crying or causing stress in my body would only make it worse (thank you hypnobirthing and yoga for installing this in my brain).

So what did we do?  The midwife was so awesome at this point.  She just took control and was with me for the rest of the time.  She knew I had to get on my side to try to turn my baby's head, so I got on my left side in bed for 30 min. then switched to the right side for 30 min.  She would massage my low back for me and my husband was at my front so I could grab onto him when I needed.  At this point I was beyond exhausted and quite delirious.  I just remember that I kept saying, "Help me.  Can you help me? Please?" Yet I knew full well that I was the only one who could help me.  Haha.  This hour was by far the hardest work I had to do yet.  For some reason being in that position made the surges even more intense (maybe because it was working to get my baby to turn his head).  After that hour, I decided I would take up the midwife's suggestion to move to the bathtub.  She got the water nice and warm and we made our way to the tub.  How lucky we were to have such a nice hospital with all the amenities and such supportive people around.  Once in the tub, just when I thought the surges couldn't get any stronger...boy was I wrong.  Now, this, was the hardest work yet!  My husband poured water over my belly while I held on tight to the sides of the tub as each surge presented itself.  By now I was definitely vocal with each exhale (not screaming by any means, but sort of releasing a moan/om/song) and going deep, deep within to make it all work.  Wow, it was powerful.  After at least a half hour in the tub, I suddenly felt the urge that my body wanted to push!  What a crazy feeling!  I said so, and the midwife sort of got in the tub to feel for the head.  Sure enough, she thought I was ready, so we all helped me out of the tub and I made my way back to the bed.  She did a quick internal exam and I was 9 1/2 cm dilated!  Woohoo!  It was around 10:45pm or so.  I got in more cat/cow to finish the work of dilating.  When it was time to start pushing, they got me back on my side, where I stayed for a good 20 min. or so with the initial onset of pushing.
This point of the labor was so surreal and beyond describing.  All I can say is that your body certainly takes over and you cannot control it.  It is ready to push and so you do!  (And yes, it really does feel a lot like you have to take the biggest crap of your life...ha!  Except, you're about to birth your greatest creation in life!)  After that first part of pushing, the midwife told me I could switch positions to speed things up, so I was all about that.  I got into a sort of laying down squat.  The nurse had one foot and my husband had the other.  This is where more of the hardest work came.  Whoa.  I haven't eaten for almost 24 hours or slept, I am sweating, a bit out of my head, and just want this all to be over and holding my baby!  So, I pushed.  Something divine and other than myself took over.  I thought of all the other women who had done this before me.  I thought of other things that took strength in life and nothing seemed to compare to this.  I knew that I was completely capable.  By 11:50, they were telling me the baby could be born that day or on the 12th.  My body needed to take it's time by that point.  I was pushing for about an hour then and I also didn't want to tear.  There was no forcing anything.  It was simply my baby and I working together now for the best possible moment.
At 12:22 am, on Saturday, March 12th, my boy emerged from my womb and his dad placed him right up on my belly.  The three of us were in complete awe of it all.  We got to spend a good amount of time like this and Isak latched to feed right away.  He was born a big boy (they measured him at 9 lbs 2 oz, but there might have been some scale issues).  Needless to say he's a healthy, hungry guy and was back up to 9 lbs 4 oz at 2 weeks!  And I made it out with just 1 stitch and some soreness...go yoga!

There ya have it.  Yes, I did it completely natural and for over 20 hours.  It was well worth feeling every single surge.  But that was how it was supposed to be for me.  It may not be anything close to the next woman in that very room.  The main thing is that I have joined motherhood now.  And that it's all true how mothers feel.  Instant worry for this creation of yours, instant emotional connection to all of life, instant love.  Just when you think you know all that love is, more of it rushes in.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My baby boy

Dear friends,

As many of you already know, I am pleased to announce that I welcomed my baby boy into the world 11 days ago on March 12!  Isak James Falk is a healthy, strong boy that we are more than in love with.  We had a totally natural birth and I am healing nicely.  Going to spend the next month or two just settling into motherhood with this beautiful new life.
Wishing you all a happy spring with an abundance of yoga and wellness in your lives!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where would you like to go and practice yoga with me?

We've made it to March!  Spring is just a few more weeks away (officially) and there is reason to keep stepping forward and looking toward the positive each day.  I am still pregnant, yes.  Just about 39 weeks at that!  My little guy is showing signs that he's ready to debut in this world very soon, but of course I do not know when exactly that will be.  So, I continue to do my gentle yoga poses that feel good at this point (mostly lots of cat/cow, modified down-dog, butterfly, squats, and other hip-openers).  And I continue to enjoy my final days of doing nothing and having moments of stillness to myself.  Watching movies, reading, cooking, going for walks, and being with my husband.  I yearn for my old body and for getting back into my yoga practice and my teaching practice...but that can all wait!  First, I must journey through the adventure of giving birth and learning to be a mother, and that in itself is a practice that is so much more important!

All of my students and yoga are still constantly on my mind, however, and so many thoughts for future getaways keep entering my mind.  My most memorable teaching experiences have come in foreign lands, while leading others in life-changing practice and adventures.   Here's what I'm thinking for the future and I'd love to hear your thoughts on if/when you'd like to join me.

--This summer (sometime between June-August 2011):  Nantucket weekend
   My family has roots in Nantucket and I plan to be there with my new baby a lot this summer.  Am thinking of organizing either a weekend retreat or simply getting involved with a local studio to lead some classes and workshops.

--Winter 2012 (sometime between January-March):  A week in the Caribbean: St. Lucia or Dominica
   Am dreaming of leading a family-friendly week-long yoga vacation in the sun, geared toward welcoming families (as I will have a one year old by then), but all will be welome.

--Summer 2012: Iceland
   This would be another week-long magical Iceland Adventure open to all.

--Spring/Summer 2013:  Croatia
   Do I need to say more?  I have a contact there and it would be a Mediterranean yoga paradise vacation.

So, let me know if these sound appetizing and post your comments/ideas about anywhere else, other times of year, etc.  Would love to take a poll!

K, happy yoga to you all this month and hoping to share the news of my baby soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love this mid-winter

Usually on Valentine's Day, I would bring a special treat to my yoga classes and leave it next to every person during savasana so that they'd awaken to some more love on this day. Most of the time it's something of the dark chocolate assortment, of course! So today I miss doing I think I've done it for about the last 4 years. But, I am sending you all lots of chocolate delighted thoughts of sweet things, and love that should be carried with you each and every day.

I am in my 37th week of carrying this most loved child in my womb, which means by the end of this week I will be technically full-term and that feels so amazing that I can only imagine what the actual birth will feel like! On top of that, it's also 2 years now that my love and I have been together. His love is the truest I could have hoped for and guides me everyday to keep spreading the joy of connection, growth, and compassion that I believe in.

This week, I wish for you all to find something that brings you such love and to cherish and honor it. What else do I cherish? Our 2 sweet cats, my fantastic beyond words friends & family, wholesome soups with hot bread on these February nights, the sunsets, that bite of chocolate to get a gal through the day, that beautiful piece of jewelry that will always make me smile, downward facing dog to relieve my back and let my baby belly hang, soothing music, and these last days of cuddling on the couch before the babe arrives.

If you're looking for something fabulous to gift yourself and cherish this week, then I would highly recommend an inspired work of art by my dear friend, Mel, who creates such things of magic and beauty out in Alaska! Check it out:

Happy Valentine's Day!!

*In memory of my dear Grandmother Ruth Pici, who passed from this life 7 years ago today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Update

My dear yoga friends,

Here we are on another wintry weather Wednesday and another New Moon. I write this "hello" to you all from the comfort of my home, 35 weeks pregnant and counting! I am now on full maternity leave. My last teaching gig before this babe's arrival was this past Saturday when I welcomed 5 other pregnant mama's to be in my prenatal yoga workshop. It was such a joy to teach and share with them all as I go through it as well. Now I wait out this month to see when my little guy would like to enter the world. I miss you all dearly, and I miss my regular vinyasa practice. But, I've still been doing my yoga on a whole other level and storing up the energy I will need for the birth.
For most of you, it's not birth that you're storing energy for, but it's most likely something. On this Aquarius New Moon (and Chinese New Year), I send you all strength to liven up your life here in the middle of winter! Do something that will get you out of that rut. Try a new healthy food, try a new yoga class or teacher, treat yourself to a day of beauty or wellness, go to that music concert, read that book that you've always wanted to, or better that trip to the place you've always wanted to. It's that time of the year to step out of our personal boundaries and embark on something that will bring back your zest for life!

Something I've been seeing in the media and thinking about lately, is discovering what works for you, personally. This means in all areas of life. You see, it's not so much discussed about in our world how we should go ahead and do this. It's that everything is judged in the media and our society.
So, this got me thinking as to why people aren't talking about the fact that every person is on a path to their own lifestyle discoveries. On NPR, in the New York Times, on Oprah, on network television, (can you tell I've had more time on my hands?)...there are discussions about how you should eat, yoga rebels, relationship choices, political dilemmas (which are never compassionate), and everything else you can imagine. And most of the time, there is only one side of the story told or simply not enough information given for listeners or viewers to decipher a solid feeling about the topic. However, I seem to think that our society and our media continue to shape the way people DO think. And this is what troubles me.
The "Yoga Rebel" article came a couple Sunday's back in the Times about NYC teacher Tara Stiles. Apparently she leaves out any spirituality aspect of yoga and uses the practice as a main form of physical exercise and wellness. And her teaching has been getting attention because she's beautiful, fun, knows how to market herself, and is gaining in popularity. This article (among others published this year) brought some debatable discussions in the yoga community. Tara doesn't like to follow a specific "style" or branch of yoga. She plays pop music a lot. She's getting flack from "true yogis" in her approach.
And then there was the On Point interview/discussion about the new book, Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses. The author is a middle-aged mother who discovered life lessons on the yoga mat, and wanted to talk about the pressures of motherhood in our society. As a mom-to-be, I already feel some of those pressures! That right there shows me more about our society. And even about the yoga community.
And yesterday's Oprah episode showed Oprah and her staffers trying a week-long Vegan challenge. Plus, Michael Pollan was on, and they showed a beef processing plant. It was an eye-opening episode for probably most of her viewers. I found it to be a bit fluffy (what can you expect from just an hour long Oprah episode?!), and the vegan expert they had on was not even a nutritionist and didn't really do a great job at discussing the the proper way to cook really delicious whole foods meals. Michael Pollan was way better and I just wish he would have spoke up more to America's people about the importance of shopping at Farmer's Markets for meat instead of the big chain stores, etc. (Perfect example of my own choice and opinion). In the end, at least Oprah enhanced the thought that everyone needs to be more conscious about their eating habits and do what is best for them, personally.
Which now brings me to my point. There is no "true yogi." There is no "right" way to eat. There is no "perfect" way to parent (or birth!). We are all on a path to find our own way. Yes, there are hard-core yogis. There are those who truly take the practice to another level and it's part of their every cell and being. But, there are also those that practice yoga at a gym after lifting weights, or running and they don't want to get any deeper into it than that. They might already have another outlet for spirituality. Some yoga teachers play kirtan music or no music at all. Some play Lady Gaga. And some are somewhere in between trying to find a nice balance in the midst of it all (that would be me). ;)
Of course there are better ways of eating for your health. But, who is to say that someone who is mindful of the meat they eat, and who eats whole veggies and grains as well, is any less than a vegetarian or vegan? And same goes with parenting. Of course there are pressures to buy acceptable toys, foods, clothes for your children and then also have time for yourself. But, who is to say that someone who uses cloth diapers, makes their own baby food, or home-schools their kids are any better than someone who doesn't?
These are all things I miss about teaching right now. Offering up the energy and discussion and awareness to people that it first comes from self-acceptance and discovering your own awareness before you can decide what, in our conglomeration of choices in this world, works best for YOU. So, keep on living day to day and practicing your yoga in whatever form, so that you can figure out your own sense of being. Find out more about something that you're interested in. Don't let the media do the thinking for you. Find out why you like and do the things you do, and then either keep doing them or make that change. We will fail many times and we will change our minds. The important thing is that we are doing it and we are understanding why we are making the decisions that we are.

Whew! Okay, now that I got that out there...

My pose recommendation of the month is to do any hip opener that you love. It's that time of year when we become super tight due to less activity, the coldness in our bones, and the stress. Get down into your favorite lunge, lizard pose, half pigeon, double pigeon, cow-face pose, thread the needle, frog, or anything that (once again) calls out to YOU.

And who should you practice with right now? At Karma Cambridge, I recommend trying Erica's vinyasa classes, Christine's Forrest classes, Kate's Wednesday vinyasa, Caroline's Forrest and/or Yin, and Rachel's vinyasa (once she's fresh back from India in about another week).
And don't forget Bow Street Yoga, to those of you who are in the Somerville area. It's the coziest studio around, with fab vinyasa, yin, and power yoga teachers.

K, that was a long one! Hope you're all staying safe in this crazy winter we are having. I will for sure alert you to the news of my baby's birth after his arrival. You probably won't hear from me until then...

Sending tons of positive vibes and love your way,

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Upcoming Prenatal Yoga/Reiki Workshop

A Prenatal Yoga/Reiki Workshop
with Jenn Pici Falk-E-RYT and Steph (Naz) Zabel-reiki practitioner/herbalist
Saturday, January 29, 2011--5:00-6:45pm
Bow Street Yoga-Union Sq. Somerville

> Join us for an introduction to reiki and prenatal teas, then for a 60 min. prenatal yoga practice with Jenn (who is 8 months pregnant herself!) to allow your physical body and your emotional spirit to stabilize and settle into its natural rhythms of creating a baby.

> We will then relax in meditative savasana (
prenatal style) to allow Steph to perform reiki on us in order to complete our relaxation/awareness and open our subtle energy points!

> Post-reiki/savasana, Jenn and Steph will open discussion about herbs, teas, foods, remedies, and postures that might aid you during the journey of your pregnancy. Steph will have samples of her Flowerfolk herbal line on hand for us to sample as well.

Jenn Pici Falk has been teaching Vinyasa Flow in the Somerville/Cambridge area for over 4 years, and practicing for 11. She encourages students to honor their bodies and spirit by opening to truth on their mats and staying light hearted. She provides a fun atmosphere with music and positivity to open up the power of yoga to everyone. Yoga has been the stable point of balance that has guided her through her first pregnancy so far.

Steph Zabel is a Reiki practitioner, ethnobotanist, and owner of Flowerfolk, a small local business which creates herbal-based skin care products. Her work is spreading knowledge about the beauty and power of plants. It is her honor to share Reiki healing with others.

Due to the energy and time sensitivity of this practice, space is limited to only 10 students.
Sign-up soon for your spot!