Well, I did it. With the exception of that post about the Eagles going to the Superbowl, I wrote something yoga-ish every day. I missed a day or two of restorative yoga and never missed a beat on the meditations. Not bad for a thirty day practice!
Since this is the last post of the January series, I feel a summary is in order.
Laura’s yoga practice to-do list:
• Make time every day for quiet stillness, but don’t wait for time to magically free itself up. It won’t. MAKE it happen.
• Turn it into a ritual by creating a special place and adding touches of beauty and sensory pleasure.
• Practice observing your own emotional reactivity as a way to reclaim the power you lose to old patterns of behavior that cause suffering.
• Try restorative yoga poses, like the ones I mentioned throughout the month.
• If restorative yoga poses aren’t for you, find a different activity the elevates you to a higher emotional state and balances your energy.
• Seek out a group of like-minded people to connect and grow with.
• Find your purpose and live authentically.
No problem, right? Ha! Easier said than done. The last important thing to note is that when the list falls apart, don’t take it personally. Tomorrow’s another day, and failing is just a part of growing. So off we grow!
Thanks to anyone and everyone who read my diatribes for a month. I feel like I’m just getting started, so don’t go anywhere. I’m not done with you yet. 😁
#yogachallenge #yoga #restorativeyoga #yogapractice #selfstudy #meditation
This past week I started two long term classes at Yoga Loka. The first is a nine month program that meets once a month to study Durga, the primordial mother energy. Already in just introducing ourselves to each other we talked about empowerment, invisibility, and the different between domination and dominion. We were told to ask ourselves self-inquiry questions like: In coming to the mother, what am I seeking protection from? What fear lies behind the need for protection? What is power, and where do I feel powerless? Then we were led in meditation, and followed up by sharing experiences verbally, and afterward in the Slack communication app set up for private discussion.
The second class I started is a weekly book study group covering the ancient text the Bhagava Gita, the story of a young warrior who, when faced with battle, refuses to engage. The text is a conversation between the warrior and the god Krishna, and covers topics about right action, living our higher purpose, and releasing the fruits of our actions. All that came just from reading the introduction and discussing our different translations. In this class we were asked to consider questions like: What is the war I am personally fighting? Is it really mine or have I taken on someone else’s battle? Is it physical, mental, or emotional?
If you’ve been reading my posts for a month, you can tell this sort of philosophical study is right up my alley. But even more meaningful is the group dynamic. Exploring these question about life in a group with like minded individulals creates an energetic space of safety. Sharing struggles and experiences, asking questions, and encouraging each other promotes growth in a way that might not happen otherwise. Add group meditation practices, and the result is even more powerful.
You don’t need to be in a yoga study group to find connection. Maybe your energy balancing practice is crochet, baking, gardening, running, or creating music. Finding that group of souls, either online or in person, who walk the same path can inspire you in directions you didn’t expect and create an uplift of momentum that you wouldn’t have working on your own. to be seen, acknowledged, and supported - isn't that what we all want? I’m grateful for my local group of fellow students, and I’m looking forward to another year of knowing myself just a little better.
#yoga #yogapractice #restorativeyoga #yogachallenge #selfstudy #meditation #empowerment #durga #bhagavadgita #sangha #support
I will certainly do my daily restorative yoga practice at night after everyone settles, but I don’t have a single writing topic in my head at the moment. The whole day was about family time and the Eagles game, and now they are heading to the superbowl! (The Eagles, not the family)
If forced to connect yoga with football just so can keep my blog posting consistent, I’ll say this. Every time I hear Jalen Hurts in an interview, I think he must be a yogi. I have never seen anyone epitomize detachment the way that guy does, who wasn’t already a renowned spiritual guru.
That’s it for today. Go birds!
#yoga #yogapractice #yogachallenge #restorativeyoga #SuperBowl #Eagles
You probably don’t know what a pain in the ass you are to the people in your life, especially your family.
However, it’s likely you are very sure how much of a pain in the ass they are to you.
Multiply that by 8 billion and you pretty much have the human condition. We’re like little prickly and bumpy blobs of energy bouncing off each other causing joy or suffering, depending on which bit goes where. This is not really a problem (with the obvious exceptions regarding murder and violence and such). Experiencing the flow of our emotions as they rise and fall is part of the beauty of being alive. The problem occurs when we hold onto and magnify our own suffering, creating even more in our life and in the lives of those who touch us.
How do we let go of our own suffering before we compound it? Yoga philosophy, as in the “Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali, gives a framework for us to observe our suffering and change it at the root so that it no longer arises. Yoga practice gives us a physical and energetic way to process the suffering we do experience by dispersing or transforming it. In my practice, I do both, but you can also practice one way over the other. Combining self study with energetic practice is a powerful catalyst for change in your life.
This month I’ve been offering you bits of the wisdom (like this bit of genius right here) and practices (the poses, meditations, and breathing practices) of yoga in the hopes that it helps you process your own suffering by finding stillness. Stillness enables us to pause long enough to observe ourselves, feel our habitual response pattern arise, and then decide our reaction. It also gives us the space to sink into elevated emotions, like joy, gratitude, and bliss.
As you go about your day today blobbing around, bumping others and being bumped back, try to find some time to create stillness in your body and mind. The more stillness we find, the less effective those jabs from others will be and the less likely we will be to respond in kind.
#yoga #yogapractice #restorativeyoga #yogachallenge #selfstudy #meditation
I can tell I’m at the end of this challenge, because I’m losing steam. Today even though I had time to write early in the afternoon when it was perfectly quiet and no one was home, instead I started getting tax documents organized. Not exactly anyone’s idea of fun.
At the beginning of the month, when I was full of inspiration and energy, writing would have been the only goal of the day. But my challenge times out at the end of January, and now that I’m close, I can feel my focus fade. I’m looking around at all the other things that I want to do, or that need to be done. I put in my effort for nearly a whole month! Do I really need to keep going with this?
Here’s the crux of that January challenge problem, and most of those brilliant resolutions we make at the beginning of the year. January ends, the inspiration fades, our old habits creep back, and suddenly that sparkly new you doesn’t seem so desirable anymore. But before we both throw the whole thing out, it’s time to reassess. What have I gained? What should stay? What should go?
My January practice of 20 minutes of a rest pose during the day is an easy one to keep. It fits well into my day in those forgotten minutes where I would normally be zoning out on Facebook or putzing around the house. My practice of writing and posting every day though, is different in that it doesn’t always fit in seamlessly into the day. It took real commitment, and sometimes had me up too late or ignoring the family because I had to get it done. I think writing every day as a practice was great, but that will need to dial back a little bit when February hits.
This is the best part of any long term practice, and the reason why these are important to do. If you do something every day consistently for a long period, it’s easy to see what you’ve gained and what is different about your life from when you started. You can decide what parts of the practice are worth keeping and what needs to change to fit better into the structure of your world. But you don’t get to see that if you quit after a week, or only practice sporadically. The gift of the effort is the discernment you receive in the end.
I haven’t been inspired to write about what I think and feel since before covid. The gift of my effort this month has been the feeling that I have found my higher purpose. Writing about my yoga practices and sharing the techniques I’ve learned in the last 12 years of study has been completely joyful for me, and I know I will continue. Thank you all for reading and being supportive and sweet with your comments! I’m sure my first internet troll experience is out there somewhere, and hopefully I will not take myself so seriously that I can’t handle it.
#yoga #writing #yogapractice #yogachallenge #restorativeyoga
I’m not sure what to talk about today, so I’m going to put in a brief plug for an upcoming free yoga series I am offering on Tuesdays in March at the Hunterdon County Library. And guess what? We’re going to be doing yoga in a chair.
This is one of my favorite types of yoga classes to teach, because almost ALL excuses (except for the “it’s against my religion” one) are nullified when you bring a chair into your yoga class. The following are reasons why people say they can’t do yoga, and why those reasons are not true.
“I can’t do yoga because I have a knee/hip/shoulder replacement”
Mat yoga is not impossible after joint replacement surgery, but it is more challenging to modify poses. Not the case in a chair! Even recovering joints can do all basic movements safely with the help of the chair for balance and support. Odds are good your doctor WANTS you exercising to strengthen the muscles around that joint, so here is your chance.
“I can’t do yoga because I can’t get up and down off the floor”
No problem! You can do your entire exercise practice seated if necessary, or standing and using the chair for balance.
“I can’t do yoga because I can’t take my shoes off because of blahblahblah problem”
Leave them on. But I won’t leave mine on, and you will enjoy seeing my fashionable collection of Harry Potter, Sesame Street, and funny catch phrase socks.
“I can’t do yoga because it’s too expensive”
FREE. This class is offered by the library for free to all, whether you are a library member or not.
“I can’t do yoga because I’m not bendy enough”
Oh boy, do I hate hearing this one. You do not need to be a human pretzel to do yoga. Yoga can meet the needs of every type, size, and shape of body. Because it’s so adaptable, it can also accommodate mobility restrictions and acute or chronic injuries and conditions.
If you are done telling yourself stories and want to try out some free yoga, you can meet me at the Main branch of the Hunterdon County Library in Flemington on Tuesdays in March. We’ll meet from 11:30 to 12:30, and class will include simple meditations and visualizations, along with yoga postures in and holding onto a chair. More info to come about registering, which you can do directly to the library.
See you soon for some all-level Chair Yoga!
I’ve been taking adult continuing education art classes on and off for a long time. Early on, I discovered pastels (artist speak for fancy expensive chalk) and really took to them. But then I felt like I should be learning other mediums too, and really got in my head that I wanted to master watercolor.
So, for years I took watercolor classes, and sucked. I tried different teachers, different studios, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I thought there was some secret code to doing watercolor and if I kept trying, I could just crack it. My teachers were all helpful and nice, except for one, who was helpful and actually honest. After watching me struggle for many classes, Charles said “Look, I’ve seen you draw. You’re good. But this – this is just not your medium. You used to bring pastels to class. Why don’t you bring those again?”
I wouldn’t. I just kept plugging along, not really enjoying the process or anything I created, but sure that my hard work and persistence would pay off eventually. Even after covid hit and I took a break from classes, once I started back again, I picked up watercolor in one class, and added the new challenge of acrylics in the other. I couldn’t let go of this idea that I needed to be constantly striving to meet my definition of a “better artist.”
In January, I started this restorative yoga challenge, and by the time my new art class session started a few weeks later, I automatically grabbed my 30 pound bag of pastel supplies and happily lugged them into class. In my art classes (and in life in general) I was over managing and trying to force a particular outcome, and in doing so, I had lost the joy of actually creating for the sake of creation itself. My yoga practice reminded me that when I let go of needing to be somebody (great artist, great teacher, great mom, etc), I can connect to my authentic self and know that I am already enough.
Now I change the way I approach my classes, and I Make Art Fun Again. Hey, I should put that on a hat!
#yoga #yogachallenge #yogapractice #restorativeyoga #relax #art #pastelpainting #iamenough
Day 23 of IDJSIJ Challenge – Doing Jack Shit Creates Desire
This is an actual screenshot of my face during my attempt to make a Reel on Instagram. 😆
I had a very unsatisfying practice this afternoon because I was just too busy doing actual stuff. I got to the cardio class at the gym for the first time since December, make a fast grocery stop, grabbed a shower, then got set up for the “freemium” webinar about Instagram videos I saw advertised. Even though I knew what I was getting into, I wound up on a two hour call with 25 minutes of usable information and a heavy sales pitch in the end, during which time I made my lunch. By the time I got all that done and set up for my relaxation pose, my mind was ping ponging all over the place and I don’t think I relaxed much at all for my 20 minutes.
But I did my practice, right? So check the box and move on with my day, right? As a devoted list maker and crosser outer, that is reasonable. But here’s the thing.
I know now what real restoration feels like and that wasn’t it. So instead of saying, good enough and moving on, I say NOT good enough. I’m going back in. As soon as I get these kids to bed, I’m getting back on the mat.
The more you experience stillness, the more you want to find it again, and the easier it is to discern the real thing from the imposter. Yet another lesson, and still eight more days to go!
#yoga #restorativeyoga #relax #yogachallenge #yogapractice #isuckatreels #reelsareweird #toooldforinstagram
Well, if THAT isn’t the dumbest, least effective marketing technique by a yoga teacher I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. Still, it’s a true story.
I’ve spent three whole weeks now writing about quieting the body and mind, relaxing into the present moment, and releasing our very human need to constantly be somebody and do something. To do that, I’ve offered various classical yoga techniques like breathwork, meditation, physical poses, and being the observer of our own emotional entanglements. I offered those because yoga practices are the framework for how I live my life, and I can see everything I’ve gained from them. I certainly will continue to share and teach those experiences for all my days. But I don’t need to do that, and neither do you.
If you’re a journal person or a list maker, get a paper and pen. If not, just sit and remember where you were and what you were doing when you felt like your energy reserves were being refilled. Maybe you were outside enjoying nature, on a vacation with friends, creating art, or on a run. Maybe you were presenting at work, refinishing furniture, or sitting alone while sipping coffee on your deck in summer. Find the activities and places in your daily life that fill you with peace, joy, gratitude and empowerment. Practice staying with that elevated feeling, and avoid getting distracted by the chattering thoughts. Do more of those fulfilling activities and less of the stuff that makes you feel drained, exhausted, overwhelmed, and resentful.
You don’t have to sit on a mat, chant a mantra, observe your breath, or put your body into a certain shape to do yoga. After all, the purpose of doing all those steps in a practice is to get to the part when you can connect to the place within of no-mind and no-body. When you find yourself completely submerged in the present moment, you are doing yoga. When you find harmony in the body, breath, and mind, you are doing yoga. When you’re engaging in your passions and finding the joyful experience of expressing your true nature with no concern for the result, you are doing yoga. When you connect to your sense of the eternal within, you connect to all beings everywhere, and you are doing yoga.
#yogapractice #restorativeyoga #yoga #yogachallenge #relax #meditation #run #create #travel #music #love #empowerment #gratitude #joy
I had a great experience taking Lianne’s Candlelight Restorative Yoga class at Yoga Loka on Saturday. It was nice to be led into different poses and having a teacher come around to check in on your position, offer more props, and cover you up with a blanket. Lianne has a sweet calming demeanor and her class seemed like it flew by. She will offer it again in the future on a semi regular basis so if you are local to Frenchtown, New Jersey, keep an eye on Yoga Loka’s workshop schedule offerings.
At one point we went into supported Child’s Pose, which I haven’t talked about yet because I feel that one really isn’t a pose that’s easy to hold for 20 minutes and is best done with an actual bolster to lay on. Child’s Pose starts out on a mat in a high kneel. Then you rest the hips on the heels and fold the torso forward. As a restorative pose, you would open the knees wide and place them on either side of the bolster long ways, and then fold the upper body onto the bolster. You either turn the cheek to one side or let the head rest face down on the bolster with another blanket under the forehead. The arms rest palms down on either side of the bolster.
I think you could roll up a lot of blankets into a long burrito shape to imitate a bolster. If your hips do not rest comfortably on the heels because short hamstrings won’t let you drop your hips, then you increase the height of the bolster by using two blocks (picture above), or add a block or more blankets between the heels and hips.
Even with the props this could be a lot of pressure on the knees as they are in deep flexion, and your feet tend to fall asleep. It did feel great for me as a hamstring and inner thigh stretch, but I would recommend it as a shorter held pose followed by relaxing on the back in Savasana.
#restorativeyoga #yoga #relax #yogapractice #yogachallenge #energybalance #yogaprops #yogalife #yogateacher
I want to share with you the yoga I practice, teach, and live.