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,