Take each day wag by wag

hattie dog in a cone

It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone

Over the past few months, I’ve had a handful of ‘crises’ to handle that seemed to pile one on top of another. But that’s how it goes right?  When we feel we can’t handle any more, we are faced with another situation to do just that — handle it. And we get through it.  Breath by breath, I realized that as each moment passed, I was one more moment through the chaos.

Most recently, my 9 year old dog, Hattie, tore her ACL. This is the second in two years that required invasive surgery with a long rehabilitation.  I’d heard that there’s a very good chance that a dog who tears one ACL will tear the other within a year or so.  Ironically, I did everything I could to protect her from exactly the situation we’re in now.  What I’ve learned, though, is that Hattie doesn’t think about the previous surgery or what the future holds.  She just knows what’s happening now; she adjusts her gait; she rests; and she faces the moment with whatever adjustments need to be made — without thought.

Dogs are our ultimate yoga teachers. If only we could all learn to take each moment wag by wag.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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Yoga when you can’t do yoga

sick teddy bear yoga when you're sick

Time and time again, a yoga practice of asana and meditation have proven to help people get healthier in mind and body. But having and keeping a healthy body sometimes means recognizing when it’s time to modify our yoga practice. If you’ve ever had a migraine, the flu, an injury or something else, you know that it can be hard to keep up with a yoga practice and that’s an important message to receive from your body.

As the song goes, you gotta know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.  When we get a nice momentum or groove going it can be frustrating to take a step back for rest, but rest is important — especially when you’re sick. And then comes the dreaded ego sneaking in with messages like, “You can do it, it’s all in your head” or “If you take a break now, you’ll never get back into it” or even “If I want to look like Jennifer Aniston, I have to push myself.” None of which are factual or helpful.

I like this post from Mary Catherine Starr, yoga instructor &  studio director in Arlington, VA.  She writes about her own struggle with maintaining a yoga practice during a sinus infection, and has some great tips on how to practice when you can’t practice.

This inability to do exactly what I love when it comes to asana and the abundance of sick or sniffly people around me got me thinking, how do you still “practice” yoga when your’re under the weather? I have a few ideas, pulling from what I’ve actually done over the past week, and thought I would share them with you today. But let me also say that these tips are for people who are struggling with seasonal allergies or sinus infections–for people who, like me, can still go about their day, albiet uncomfortably, but are just under the weather enough to be unable to practice–not those who are so weak that they’re stuck in bed or unable to do much of anything.

Read the full post ‘Yoga for when you can’t do yoga‘ on her blog, Starr Struck.  And, here are some great yoga poses for when you have a cold from Yoga Journal. When all else fails, approach your practice like a beginner.  Once your’e feeling better, take it back to square one. Allow your body to re-experience the newness of yoga and get reacquainted with the poses.

The most important thing to remember is that yoga ISN’T just about physical poses.  When you’re sick or rundown, expand your meditation and pranayama practice (if it’s accessible).  Perhaps it’s the universe’s way of reminding you that there’s more to your practice than asana. Try some guided meditations or transcendental meditation in place of asana (or shorten your asana practice and opt for a longer meditation.)

It is better to perform one’s own duties imperfectly than to master the duties of another. By fulfilling the obligations he is born with, a person never comes to grief. ~ Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Suddenly Susan)

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What is Your Heart Opening Yoga Practice?

As a yogini and a teacher, I always bring my practice back to opening the heart as a way to end suffering.  Everyday, we may not even be consciously aware of what we’re doing to sabotage our own happiness.  Things like attachment, aversion, and fear creep into our lives when we aren’t even looking.

Opening the heart happens off the mat and on through asana, spiritual practice, meditation, and nurturing our creativity.    During my classes, I often end class by reading an excerpt from a meditation book I’m reading, or poem by Rumi or Hafiz, or something I’ve written myself that speaks to the moment. Continue reading

Today is Yoga Play Day

a yoga dance

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What else is there besides thriving?

I recently submitted a post to the Atlanta Yoga Scene entitled, “When Breathing isn’t Easy – A CF Adult’s Journey to Teaching Yoga.”  That post has started a whirlwind of exposure as people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and families of … Continue reading

Awaken Your Inner Dragon

According to Chinese tradition, 2012 is the year of the dragon.   While most western myth depicts the dragon  as a fire breathing beast to be feared, eastern traditions revered the two-dragons-heart-shapecreature.  In fact, in Chinese culture, the dragon symbolizes power, wisdom and fortune and  is regarded as a divine beast.  I’ve always felt a connection with the mystical, winged, serpent.   There’s an alluring freedom, strength, and creative spark that the awakened dragon flames to life.

I had the absolute pleasure of attending an intensive weekend yoga workshop by Sean Tebor of Dragon Tree Yoga Center in Santa Fe, entitled, “Waking the Dragon.”   Through a series of non traditional asanas (poses) that harmonized yoga, creativity, and even some martial arts, we awakened our “dragonian” spines from the tips of our “tails” to our heart centers.  Like a dragon born of fire, I emerged from the experience feeling supremely balanced.  Fluid yet grounded.  Energized, but relaxed.   But, most of all I awakened with a renewed purity of mind and heart.

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On Yoga, Really (3 of 3): Breathe and Be

meditateIn the first two posts of this series, I talked about the yamas or “laws of life” and the niyamas or “rules for living,” so now we come to pranayama and meditation, both of which flow through and are essential for the previous two limbs.  When I was going through teacher training and we learned about each yama and niyama, I started to feel anxious thinking about all of the work I had to do to change myself.  I had this mental checklist running through my head.  As I began to examine the deeper meanings behind the yamas, such as violence which can be as subtle as thinking a harsh thought towards someone who is making your life difficult at work, I really started to panic.

When you really dissect all of the subtle ways we can be “in violation” of these universal moralities and personal observances, it can quickly become a challenge to stay present and not judge yourself.  So, I read more and listened more and started to see that simply ‘noticing’ when I’m in a situation in which I have an opportunity to practice non-violence or moderation, my actions naturally began to shift. Add pranayama and meditation to the mix, and these qualities of living a yogic life begin to arise unconsciously; they become part of your DNA.

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When Breathing isn’t Easy – A Cystic Fibrosis Adult’s Journey to Teaching Yoga

breathe-rockI recently had the opportunity to tell the story of my journey as a kid with a grim diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis to becoming an (almost 40) adult who teaches yoga — who teaches about the breath.

When I was five years old, my parent’s received a devastating blow.  They learned that me, their only child, had Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic lung disease that would gradually progress making it difficult for me to breathe and take part in activities like other children. It would also shorten my lifespan.

Read the whole post, When Breathing isn’t Easy – A Cystic Fibrosis Adult’s Journey to Teaching Yoga

Namaste.

-Your Charmed Yogi