Thursday, March 29, 2012

Early Spring Pose of the Moment: Downward-Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana= Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This is one of the most popular and basic poses for any yoga practitioner to come across because:
-it's accessible to most people
-stretches & strengthens the entire body 
-rejuvenates blood flow to the brain (a mild inversion)
-helps you focus on your breath and clearing the mind
-is a neutral pose to start a sequence of other poses from or to return to if tired
-most of all it feels oh so good!

 This pose works the hip flexor and abs to maintain a neutral spine.  It works/lengthens the entire leg, especially the hamstrings, calves, ankles, feet.  It works/lengthens the shoulders, wrists, deltoids, triceps.  It lengthens the diaphragm and intercostals, allowing for that deep yogic breath to take hold.  
And why is it my pose of the moment, you wonder?  Sometimes we do it so much in yoga classes, that we forget how important it is.  It may not be as exciting as other poses, but it's one that I do every single day.  And as spring has sprung, it is helping me breathe deep and turn inward as I continue to set new intentions of renewal for myself, my family, and you all.  
If you're not sure if you practice it correctly, I encourage you to come to class!  Or don't hesitate to ask your teacher.  See above photos for different angles.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Equinox Yoga Playlist from 3.25.12

After a week of summer weather in March, it's now back to cool spring!  The trees are all in bloom and gardens getting cheery everywhere.  I've had the pleasant luck to share equinox energy with my dearest friends this last week and lots of fun outdoor time with my little one, as well as yoga.  This mornings classes were particularly potent for some reason.  I just felt a collective "tuning in" from everyone.  It  provided me with such gratitude and joy for what I do.  We opened up to vulnerability in backbends, released stagnant energy in side bends/twists/torso lengtheners, and most of all we focused on our breath and bringing intention to positive dwellings of thought in our being.  Of course it certainly helped to have new music to move to.  Thanks to some new artists introduced by my little brother, Tim, and my dear friends Mel and Maribeth, I compiled this mix:

1. Bon Iver-- Lisbon, OH
2. Mountain Man-- "how will I know"
3. Horse Feathers-- "cry herself to sleep"
4. Elephant Revival-- Ring Around the Moon
5. Bat for Lashes-- A Forest
6. New Linen-- In the Background (my brother's music!)
7. Bloodgroup-- My Arms
8. Bon Iver-- Wash.
9. Esperanza Spalding-- Crowned & Kissed
10. Bon Iver-- Michicant
11. Mariee Sioux-- "I never asked"
12. Bon Iver-- Holocene
13. Mariee Sioux-- "bravitslana"
14. Bon Iver-- Towers
15. City and Colour-- As Much as I Ever Could
16. Patty Griffin-- Forgiveness
17. Olafur Arnalds-- Near Light
18. Olafur Arnalds-- Frysta

**Sorry don't know the titles to some songs...but I put some main lyrics in quotes and will revise if I get the chance.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Yoga College for Motherhood: Year 1

My baby boy is turning one year old in a week!  I reflect this week on a year ago...the waiting, the wonder, the courage it took when the time did come, and the beauty that came from it all.  My son is the most delicious thing there ever was and just keeps getting better and better (what all the mothers who have gone before me say is true after all).  He is starting to take his first steps and is very curious and passionate about many things already.  I am elated to celebrate his life and all that comes with it in mine.

At the same time, I reflect on the major transition I've had to forge through this last year.  Everyone goes through cycles of having to face unflattering character traits numerous times in a life.  Isn't this why we are drawn to practices that move us to become better versions of ourselves?  To feed our spirits and live a life that we find both morally/emotionally full and satisfying, with a greater purpose in the world?  Part of this post was inspired by my friend and sometimes health coach, Dillan, who recently wrote this about transitions.  
Becoming a mom has brought back things I haven't felt since my teen years into my early 20's.    Just when I thought I had hit my stride at being the strongest, most confident woman that I can be...bam! I am right back where I was 8-10 years ago in many ways.  This last year, I have dealt with many variations of fear (both old and new), jealousy, competitiveness, low self-esteem, anxiety/depression, guilt.  All probably due to a combination of things, such as: 
hormones, lack of sleep, overwhelming new responsibilities, navigating different "mommy" outlooks/research, navigating pressure from oneself, an ever-changing physical body, trying to maintain a sense of self and what my passions are, getting back to work, losing the closeness of old friendships (friends without babies), trying to do it all, and so on.  
I take pretty good care of myself.  I exercise, eat well, try to get decent rest, make time for relationships, and space in some "me" time.  I've done New Mama Recharge, I've ranted to my mom, sisters, and other mommy friends, and I've cried for all the other new mommy's trying to figure it out, too.  And I'm not even a single mom!  I have an awesome, pretty hands-on husband/daddy and a supportive (though not local) family.  The thing is, my yoga practice continues to be the one and only thing that emotionally keeps me on track.  These unflattering traits I mentioned...yeah, they happen.  I'm not gonna pretend they don't.  But, I notice that if I let too many days go by without giving myself some good yoga time (to be both physical and in touch with my spirit at the same time), then I am more likely to give in to these negative feelings...most recently that of anxiety/depressive qualities.  This isn't new.  Nope.  Already done this many times before in my life.  Cycles we live in and surrender to.  
What changes it this time around?  Well, I have another human being to care for.  Even more reason to challenge myself to step on my mat when I only have 15 minutes/ sit in meditation while he plays with his toys/ do asana while prepping dinner/ breathe while in line at the store and he's fussing.  He needs that from me, but more importantly, I need that from me.  Yoga for Mommy's 101.  What do you think?  Shall I make it a real class?  Hehe.  No, seriously though, I do want to start focusing on postnatal yoga and helping busy mamas find their version of yoga.  

 On the beach in Florida last week for a winter getaway to visit Grandma Jane.

 Isak doing his version of sand upward facing dog!
Stepping back into teaching some of my yoga classes in the last couple of months have been therapeutic and helpful as well.  Even though I feel much more scattered about my teaching than before baby, and not as "studied" as many other teachers out there right now; the sense of joy I get from creating a sequence that speaks to others...well, it's priceless for me right now.  I do have days where I rush out from home and Isak to go teach, and I haven't planned class all that well.  It turns out these have been my "better" classes because I'm not over thinking it.  I'm just feeling it.  And these are the days I am reminded that I am doing what I love.  I remind myself there is plenty of time to continue learning and it doesn't all have to happen right now.  I don't have to beat myself up because I've missed the latest workshop in town, or I haven't yet gotten my 500 hours certification, or I haven't yet conquered handstand or some other advanced pose.  I show up when I can.  I talk about all of the traits I both struggle with and connect with, hoping that if I read passages in class, it will translate for us all.  I learn by not knowing the answer sometimes.  I flub my words.  I pick the wrong playlist.  But again, I'm there and I'm doing what I love.  And if anything, motherhood has taught me that I am not perfect and neither is my son, but we can live from a place of love in our imperfections and that is probably the best thing we can all live by.  

(**Disclaimer--all of this is not to mention the other side of the coin: the variations on extreme love, compassion, gratitude,  honesty, forgiveness, and strength I have felt in the last year.  This is all just towards myself.  Now imagine all of these things going towards my son and husband as well.  I think it all outweighs the unflattering stuff, no?)  ;) 

Iceland Week in Boston Playlist

Yesterday was the end to Iceland Week here in Boston.  Icelandic chefs and musicians were in town to bring their culture to our city.  I am loving that this city has a nice bond forming with my favorite land on the earth.  It's true that we are closer to Iceland than the west coast of the U.S. and have similar climates. Since I have my little one, I didn't get to enjoy all of the festivities that came to town, but I did talk it up in my yoga classes and play this oldie but goodie playlist.  It consists of some of my favorite "feeling" tunes to move the body to in an intuitive way.  Check out these tunes, as well as gogoyoko for more up to date Icelandic musical fare.

I'm planning my 4th trip over this summer (David and I will introduce Isak to the country), and hopefully will have another yoga trip planned for 2013.

1- Olafur Arnalds: 3055
2- Olafur Arnalds: 0040
3- Olafur Arnalds: Fok
4- Olafur Arnalds: Himininn er a hrynja en stjarnur
5- Amiina: Sexfaldur
6- Mum: We Have a Map of the Piano
7- Mum: Moon Pulls
8- Mum: Marmalade Fires
9- Sigur Ros: Refur
10- Sigur Ros: O Fridur
11- Sigur Ros: Kafari
12- Sigur Ros: Olsen Olsen
13-Amiina: Blafeldur
14- Amiina: Rugla