Thursday, December 10, 2015

Life is About Change

I think I am finally willing to embrace the truth that life is about change. 

And willing to celebrate change as if it were a piece of the most delicious chocolate cake or the feeling you get when you watch your kid achieve something that allows them to shine or when you have a day out with your spouse and are reminded of what brought you together in the first place or that feeling you get when you walk out of a yoga class and feel at complete peace with yourself.

I have worked most of my life trying to get everything in its place, thinking that when I did, only then I would realize the joy of life. I am finding out that it doesn't work that way; regardless of how hard I try.

One of my yoga posture dreams is to do a standing split in standing bow.  Every time I come into class to practice I imagine what this accomplishment would look like.  I have wanted it so badly at times, that I have hurt myself by pushing too hard.  And I believe that how you practice your yoga is a clear example of how you live your life.  For better and for worse.  And for me, it seems that to use my practice to look at myself and determine what is well for me and what is not, will only allow for me to do things outside of my yoga practice that actually encourage a joyful life. 

Over these past several years, while running the yoga studio, some of my biggest personal growth spurts have taken place.  And with the growth spurts, so much change has found it's way into my life.  I am sure change has always been there, but I was always too busy trying to control it and trying to push too hard to make it fit into my life in the way I wanted.  I used to be a person that could plan out a day, a week, a party, a vacation minute by minute and I would make sure everything went as planned.  What I have learned from running the studio is that there simply is no way around change.  Things come up that I have absolutely no control over and somehow I must find a way to adapt. I am finding that I don't have or simply do not want to use the energy to fight against change any longer.

As I sit and write this, I wonder how this recent realization will unfold and I imagine that once I am beyond the phase of sitting in the middle, wondering what changes to make and how to make them, that things will work out wonderfully. I do know that, if what I have been gifted through all of my experiences, with all of you, at this yoga studio is any indication of what the rest of my life will bring, I have a lot to look forward to and be excited about. 

Thank you for that.

I wish for you to continue with your practice through the holiday season and in the coming year.  And if you haven't practiced in a while, I welcome you to come back. 

It is truly the best thing you can give to yourself.  


Friday, November 13, 2015

Healing from the Inside Out

This past weekend, we had a remarkable event at Bikram Yoga Hamburg; a seminar with Diane Ducharme. One of my main take aways from the weekend was in learning how to work smarter, not harder.

My father was born in Calabria, Italy.  He is one of nine siblings. My kids and I, along with a couple of my siblings and their families were fortunate this past summer to be able to go with my dad and visit his hometown of Reggio, Calabria.  Over the years, he has shared with us many stories of his childhood and of his journey from Italy to America, but to see it in real life and to try to imagine what it was like living his childhood in the way he did, was very humbling.  It allowed me to understand that one of the biggest gifts he passed along to me was how to work hard and to appreciate the people that we surround ourselves with.  Being one of nine siblings myself, I believe I had an extraordinary advantage in learning how to work within a community from the very early ages of my life.  I look at how, within our large family community, we had to learn to share and cooperate.  We had to learn who was in charge and how to trust and follow that lead.  We had to do our part and sometimes more than our part.  And as an older sibling, I also had to learn how to take lead in order to help out my parents with the younger kids and jobs around the house.    
My dads' drive to work hard was driven mostly out of need to survive while he lived in Italy.  Once in America, his survival was about learning how to make his way in a country as a teenager without knowing the language or the culture. 

I have always known that I was fortunate in growing up the way I did.  While, many things were a struggle for many reasons, I had an incredible opportunity to learn how to grow into myself because I was taught how to work hard and not give up.
As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sibling, a friend, a teacher and a studio owner, I have always tried to give complete effort to the work that I do and the relationships I am in.  I have found myself exhausted many times and simply unable to do my best because I was trying to be more than my best.

I've shared many times that I began my yoga practice in hopes of healing a knee injury.  And I did do that in a short amount of time. But, what surprised me the most throughout my practice was the mental and emotional healing and growth that I gained.  All of these benefits were gained through my willingness to show up and put the effort in.

This practice is one that we use to not only heal our bodies, but to heal ourselves from the inside out.  We are using our bodies to make us stronger, more flexible and more balanced.  As much I know this and teach this, I gained a much deeper understanding of what this means to living a more quality life by practicing my yoga in a way that is useful, not hurtful.
And it is by trying to do less.  It is by working in a way that does not hurt my body.  It is by listening to the words of the teacher, getting into set up correctly, keeping proper alignment, and then finding more depth which allows my body to open up.  Then this allows me to be calmer, more trusting of myself and able to do more with less effort. 

If I am willing to practice in a way that is honest and well for me, then I can accomplish great things, little by little, step by step. One of the most impactful things I heard from Diane this weekend was, "Differentiate between pain and discomfort.  Pain is sharp.  It stops us in our tracks and takes our breath away.  Discomfort is change."

Next time you are in class, I invite you to really listen to the words and allow your body to practice in a way that is not hurtful to you, but healing.  For many of us, this will be a great learning process, but one that I can promise will change the way you appreciate your practice and it will change the way you live your life.      


A Day with Diane Ducharme

This past weekend, we hosted a Diane Ducharme's seminar. 

First, I want to say that I believe our studio and students are exceptional.  I have seen and heard from many of you as to how much your yoga practices have impacted your lives.  

Next, I want to share with you how my first seminar with Diane Ducharme impacted me and how it is the reason why I was able to take the first step into opening Bikram Yoga Hamburg.

It is not a secret that Bikram Yoga has some controversy attached to it.  When I first started practicing and teaching this series years ago, many of us taught and practiced in a very aggressive way. The hotter, the better. The harder, the better.  If you weren't suffering or forcing your way through class, you weren't trying hard enough.  In my personal practice, this mindset caused an injury that I came in with, a much longer time to heal. It also caused minor irritations in my body to become ones more pronounced.  I don't believe all studios or teachers taught this way, but I do know that many did.  I did and I was at a point with my practice and with my teaching where this did not feel right to me any longer. I no longer had the ability to fight myself through my practice and I certainly did not want to teach this way.

In the beginning, I had limited access to understanding the healing capacities of this series and I certainly did not know how to practice in a way to heal my body or teach in a way to help people.  I was not willing to teach in a way that felt less than helpful for students.  I thought this meant I had to give up my practice, my teaching and the idea of opening a Bikram studio.  What didn't make sense to me is that it was so clear that I had received immeasurable benefits from my practice and I was receiving an incredible amount of joy from teaching because I knew the potential this series had in changing peoples lives for the better.  I knew what it did for mine and could only imagine what it had to offer if I stuck with it.  I had wanted to open a studio for almost as long as I had been practicing but had no idea how I would do this with feeling the lack of understanding in my yoga practice and in my teaching abilities.  I knew there was something more to understand. And I knew that I was at a point where it was now or never. I was ready to step away from not only the idea of opening a studio, but also my practice when I had randomly heard that there was a teacher's only seminar in NYC coming up.  Throughout my years as a teacher, I had attended as many seminars as I could from Bikram, as well as Senior Teachers.  I wanted to learn as much as I could.  This was the first time I had access to a teacher's only seminar and something about it intrigued me.  I went with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I had thought I had made up my mind that I was going to step away from this yoga and this seminar would only give me more reason to know that walking away was the right decision.  This was to be the perfect excuse to stop doing something I knew deep down was a good thing, but simply because I was at a stuck point with my practice and teaching.  
I showed up to the seminar, not sure what to expect.  Not exactly sure what I even hoped, wanted, needed to get out of it.  I don't know how far along we were into the day, but I remember so vividly, being in complete awe as I listened to Diane talk and demonstrate, answer questions about how to work with students more effectively and how to help our own personal practices evolve.  She did hands on adjustments and worked with so much humor and with an incredible amount of kindness.  And I knew exactly how I needed to move forward with my teaching and my practice and I also knew opening a yoga studio was, without a doubt, my next step.  Last week's seminar with Diane Ducharme helped students gain great insight into their yoga practice. For new students to Bikram's yoga, it was a great opportunity to learn from the start by a senior teacher.

For those who have been practicing for a while, it helped in ways that surprised.  It's easy to find ourselves sometimes going through the motions once we've been practicing for a longer period of time because we are more comfortable and now the basics, but this time with Diane helped take our practice a step further. It was a long day, but what was gained from this day is immeasurable. 


It's All About Perspective

Several years after I went to teacher training, I started to wonder why I hadn't opened a studio yet.  I had known since training that I would open a studio of my own one-day, but I couldn't figure out why I wasn't moving in the direction of doing so and I wondered what was keeping from moving forward. 

I so vividly remember one particular morning; I was in the shower and I asked myself out loud, "What are you so afraid of?" I paused, wondering if I would get an answer back, afraid of what I would hear back. 

The answer that came was my kids.  I was afraid of not being able to fulfill my commitment to them and I was afraid that I would be pulled away from them. I adore my kids.  Not only do I love them, but also I really like them, even now as teenagers. I have certainly become a better person because of my kids.  Many times in my life, since being a mother, my only motivation to keep trying was because of my kids.  I knew if I were better, they would grow up to be healthier in all areas of their lives. 

How would I continue to be there for them, if I opened up a business?  I knew I would want to give 100% to this business because the yoga is something I truly believe in and have gained so much from. 

Almost immediately, my next thought was that I would have to look at this business like my third baby.  Each of my two kids is so incredibly different.  Each has different interests; different things that motivate them; different challenges that have had to be worked out through the years.  If I could be successful at working with each of them individually and keeping our family unit strong, then maybe I can add in the studio and work it the same way and I believe to this day that this little conversation I had with myself in the shower was what really allowed me to open up to the possibility of this studio and let go of the fear that I couldn't do it.

Many people come in and say they are afraid of the heat.  They are afraid they are not flexible enough or strong enough or they have no balance. And when they write to me or talk to me about why they are afraid, I tell them that I can relate and what I know is that if they choose to take that step, the gifts waiting are immeasurable. 

So here we are, three years in. When I look around at what this studio space has grown into, I sometimes wonder how it happened. But as I reflect upon how incredibly strong our yoga studio community has become, I understand how this all happened. Every person who has walked through our doors has taken the chance to explore something new of them selves.  For some, it was an easy decision.  For others, it took a lot of courage.   For most, the benefits have exceeded any ideas originally set.  I see everyday the achievements made because of your willingness to look at things with a different perspective. 

The number one thing that I find 100% joy in at the studio is when I walk in that room to teach.  I am continuously inspired and humbled by all of you.  Thank you for three years of what is only the beginning of an incredible experience that we all share together.


Monday, July 6, 2015

It's All About Balance

I am someone who, when having an idea or setting a goal, is determined to accomplish it.  The studio is a perfect example of this.  I knew from very early on in my yoga practice that I would teach and open a studio.

It took me nearly ten years to achieve this goal, but I did.  In the ten years prior to opening, I was continuously working on myself and on plans for the studio that has developed into an amazing place for people to come to, practice their yoga and change their lives day by day as I continue to do each day with myself.  Aside from being a mother, it has been one of the toughest things I have done in my life.  And like motherhood, it has been most rewarding.

This past March, I came up with the idea to practice 100 days of yoga in 100 consecutive days.  I am unsure as to what intrigued me enough to commit to this, but I found myself easily showing up each day and happily practicing side-by-side many of you who continued on with your practices.

During this time, I also decided to cut back my sugar intake as I, very easily and much too often, find myself consuming more sugar in a day than food of high nutritional value. It was relatively easy for me to do this because I was already practicing so much yoga and feeling so good that it seemed almost automatic to give up my sugar habit.  I found myself very clear minded and able to be more efficient, getting things done with more ease and productivity.
I was in a great place, feeling strong and accomplished.

At about 60 days in, I found myself questioning whether to continue or not.  At the time, I thought I was just hitting a wall and I expected it to pass.

But, after having two major studio events on back-to-back weekends and a few weeks where I had to double up on my teaching schedule, I found that my life was completely out of balance.  I hadn't sat down with my family in over a month for dinner.  Bill was picking up too much of kid responsibilities and although he was willing to do it, I noticed it was affecting his work productivity.   My kids where often asking when I would be home.  And at the ages they are at, 14 and 15, they are usually happy when they have free time at home without mom.  So, I knew this was something to pay attention to.

It was when I spent Mother's day in bed for most of the day exhausted and sleeping, I realized that I needed to make a decision to be better for myself, my family and the studio and students.

In yoga, we talk about three main things: Strength, Balance and Flexibility.  These exist within the physical body as well the mental and emotional bodies.  If you are working through an injury, you may not have the physical strength you'd like, but your gain comes by using your mental strength by showing up and working your best and your body will follow.  If you have a strong body, but limited flexibility, you create better balance for your body by learning how to use your strength to gain greater flexibility.

I had the strength and endurance to see these 100 days through, but I was losing overall balance and I had to decide to be courageous enough to use greater flexibility and change the direction of my original goal.

So at day 72, I made the decision to change gears.

I had completed 66 days of yoga in 72 days. During this time, I had participated and completed in the studio's 30-day challenge.  I participated in the studio wide "Grow Out Of Your Comfort Spring Challenge", practicing without water, doing a double, and wearing a bra top instead of full tank!!
I decided to celebrate what I did accomplish in these days and to continue on with a more reasonable yoga practice and connect with what I had lost touch with.

Here are a few of those moments that created a better balance for me: 
  • Spending some time with my amazing nieces and nephews
  • Going to the theatre with my daughter, Emma!  
  • A day trip with Bill! Here we are wishing our son, Jack, good luck on his Chemistry exam.  
  • Thursday night soccer games! Love how the boys' coach has the team run to the parents side line after each game!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Take care of your self. Be willing to be uncomfortable.

I have been learning what each of these mean for myself for years.  I find that every day, each may have a different meaning.  For example, during week one of our studio's Springtime Weekly Adventure, to take a class or several throughout the week without drinking water during class, I took all but one class without water.  The first day was uncomfortable, not because I was thirsty, but because I found myself wanting water when I would usually drink it.  I didn't know what to do at party time when others were drinking and I was not.  Do I look around, do I stretch out a bit, or do I stand still?  On the day I chose to bring in water and drink throughout class, I did so because I was feeling a little run down from the day before and with not sleeping well, I felt I needed to support myself during my yoga practice and give my body some extra water to help with my recovery.  The first day without water was uncomfortable, but it was not a lack of taking care of myself self.  In fact, I found it to be a better way of taking care of myself by giving myself this mental challenge to work through. 

Week two of our Springtime Weekly Adventure encouraged students to wear a little less in the room. Shorts instead of capris.  Crop tops instead of tanks.  Form fitting clothing.  For the guys, we suggested no t-shirts. This gave an opportunity to once again go against our comfort level.  When we can see more, we can hold our selves more accountable.  When we can see our belly, we are more apt to" suck it in, hold it in and tighten it up."  We can also look at ourselves and see what we are avoiding, consider why we are avoiding and making an effort to change. 

During my high school years, when not in school or working at my dad's store as a cashier, I could be found in a bikini basking in the sun in late spring and all of the summer.  These days, I wear only what will cover my belly and I knew I must take the plunge and wear a crop top in the hot room.  I pulled one out of a secret stash I had of what I would wear one day, but hadn't yet.  I quietly walked into the room and took my place on my mat.  I looked at myself standing in front of those mirrors.  To my surprise, one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, look how strong I've become."  I could see in the mirror the strength of my core muscles and it was a delightful measurement of some of the physical benefits I have gained through my practice.  I then started thinking about all of the internal benefits that I have received that couldn't be seen as well as mental and emotional.  I reflected on how I had handled a situation earlier in the week with more grace than I would have in earlier days.  I smiled at myself and gave myself a mental pat on the back. 

And then it happened.  I bent forward for standing head to knee and saw my loose belly, even with it sucked in and the stretch marks.  The feeling that washed over me took me by surprise, as thoughts that started to fill my head sounded pretty harsh.  I started to panic, wondering if I was going to beat myself up throughout the entire class.  I asked myself,  "How am I going to encourage people to step out of their comfort and learn to take care of themselves if I am going to beat myself up when out of my comfort."  I decided instead that there was no way I was going to go through this class feeling defeated.  Second set standing head to knee pose, I bent forward, looked at my belly and this time I thought of why I had the stretch marks.  Because I have two kids that I adore.  They make me a better person, they help me to want better for myself so I can give more of that better person to them.  They make me laugh every day.  They recognize my accomplishments as I do theirs.  They frustrate me plenty of times as I do them.  They take their hard day out on me sometimes.  And I do on them.  We laugh a lot, say sorry often and learn much from each other. 

Coming out of standing head to knee, I look again at myself in the mirror. I move my glance down to my belly and realize I am not perfect, in the sense that everything is sculpted and controlled as sometimes I wish.  Instead I realize I am perfect in this moment because I have just learned how to make a choice in my thinking.  By putting myself in an uncomfortable situation, things showed up where I made the decision to take care of myself, to be real with myself and to treat myself in a way that I would expect to treat any other person. 

I am over 50 days into my 100 days of yoga.  Overall, it has been enjoyable and somewhat easy.  It has been great to share in these weekly adventures with so many of you during this time.  This week, I practiced at the 6 am class on Monday morning, something I do not often get to do.  By the end of the day, I had hit a wall with my attitude about my yoga practice.  Instead of feeling like I am still gaining, I felt as if I am starting to have to give up too much.   I am unsure, in this moment, which is true. But at the end of my practice tonight, I felt amazing.  I came home in a great mood, sat down to finish writing my note to you and am thinking I will continue to take care of myself by continuing on with my 100 days of yoga. 

Thank You for showing up and for working hard for your selves and will all of us in that room. 

We have some great things happening this month at the studio.  Mark your calendars and be sure to join us!!! You are what makes our studio the best!!! 


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celebrating 11 Years

This March marked the celebration of 11 years as a Bikram Yoga teacher. I was reflecting on what brought me into the hot room for my first Bikram class that eventually led me to where I am today. 
Most Bikram Yoga practitioners can recall their very first class, with great detail: who the teacher was, where they had their mat, how they felt before, during and after class.  I remember nothing about my first class.  What I do remember about my first days is what brought me into the yoga room and what I received from my practice. 

 I picked up running during college, after putting on the infamous freshman fifteen.  I continued running throughout my adult years and after having my children, I started racing locally, including a few half marathons and two full marathons.  I found running to be an easy out the door and onto the street exercise that also relieved stress for me.  Often I would run with a double baby jogger.   Eventually, this caused an overuse injury to my knee and I was unable to run even a block.  A colleague of my husbands suggested Bikram Yoga to help with my injury and I thought,  "Why not."  I found positive results almost immediately.  It was not long before I was running my regular miles with yoga filling in the gaps to keep my knee strong.  But after a few months, my yoga became regular and the running was filling in the gaps.  I was finding my body to feel better and also I was handling my stress much better. 

My decision to go to teacher training had no logic to it.  In fact, it didn't make sense to me at all at the time, for many reasons.  But, I just had the desire to go and everything lined up beautifully for that to happen. Most people at training had been practicing for years and on a daily basis.  I had been practicing only five months and just few times a week.  It was what I was willing to commit to at the time with having two young children and I felt that I was getting the benefits I needed.  Once back from training, I maintained a three times a week practice and added teaching to my schedule.  I did do challenges every now and again, but always found that going back afterwards to three times a week worked best for my schedule and the balance in my life. 

 There have been times when I had taken a few weeks off for my practice.  There have been times when I practiced 4-5 times a week for an extended period of time. There have been times when I have practiced while on vacation and others times not.  But, after 11 ½ years of practice, it is still remarkable to me the benefits I still receive from the time I spend in that room.  I can see the long term effects that this practice has served me.  I have become a person I like a lot. 

I am now into my forth week of 100 days of yoga.  I went into this thinking much like I did when I considered going to training; that it was crazy and how do I have the time for it and can my body actually do it.  But I feel amazing.  I feel incredible.  My body feels strong, my mind is very clear. I am finding that outside of the yoga room, I am making decisions that promote better health as well.  I have been a lover of sugar for as long as I can remember.  I can easily fill my day with more sweets than nutritional food.  I cut that back considerably a couple weeks in to my 100 days and it seems to contributing to the benefits of my daily yoga practice.  I am excited to see my progress over the next sixty plus days and where this particular commitment takes me. 


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Personal Note from Gina

I have noticed that while this winter season seems to be a bit relentless, we have been privileged to  more than the usual sunlight and  it seems to have kept my spirits up.  Winter is difficult for me.  I love  the heat, which for a Bikram student, is very helpful.  But for a resident of Buffalo, NY, being a lover of heat can make the winter months, at times, unbearable.  I have also noticed that by keeping up with my yoga practice, especially on the days I do not have the desire to go, I have fared these recent winter months with much more ease.

I have been practicing Bikram's yoga series for over eleven years. I remember feeling so good those first months, thinking that I could weather anything with this yoga in my life.  I almost dared difficulty to step into my life, so I could prove my own personal strength that I realized through this yoga series.  And plenty of challenges and struggles have shown up throughout the years.  When they did, I can reassure you that I did not necessarily greet them with welcome or excitement.  Often, I was annoyed for the hassle of having to deal with these things that I wished would silently go away and so that I could get on with my life.  I have used my yoga practice to work through these difficulties, big and small.  During these times I always come away from my practice feeling clearer than I was when I stepped in the hot room.

I had one of these moments just this past weekend.  I was moving along at a nice pace.  I was easily catching up on things from being away the week before and setting myself up for a solid slide into March. Then, Friday happened.  A big blow out of nowhere hit and I had to put everything aside to deal with the situation.

As the weekend went on, I found myself continuing to be absorbed in the upset from Friday and the efforts to resolve the inconveniences that came from it.  I had to force myself to take class Saturday night, which helped to settle me into a good nights' sleep.  But, I woke Sunday, feeling like crap.  And this time, I chose not to go to yoga.  I managed to do a few things around the house, to make myself feel like I had accomplished something worthy for the day, but I went to bed still feeling out of sorts. As I lay in bed, the struggle to go to yoga or not the following day kept me from falling asleep.  Back and forth all night long.

I had committed myself to 100 days of yoga. Yoga every day for the next 100 days.  Day one was to start this past Monday morning.  When I woke Monday morning, the thought of having to step into that hot room on this day felt intolerable to me.   If fact I stayed in bed longer than usual, trying to somehow think of a legitimate reason not to go.  Maybe I was getting sick and needed a day of rest.  Maybe I had some paperwork to do that was time sensitive.  Maybe the kids had a morning orthodontist appointment that I had forgotten about.  I probably should stay home and catch up on laundry.  I am really hungry.  There is no way I can complete a full class without eating breakfast first.  At this point I dozed off.  I imagine I exhausted myself trying to come up with excuses.  When I awoke, I immediately looked over at the clock.  It read 8:30.  Without a thought, I got up, brushed my teeth, put on clothes, grabbed a yoga top and shorts and left for yoga.

To my surprise, I had an amazing class.  The first of the 100 days.  The decision to get into the room and practice yoga on this particular day proved to me how far I have come in terms of breaking though some old patterns that I could clearly see were limiting me and left me to remember and strive for doing things that would support what I wanted for myself out of life.  While I spent some time fighting with myself Monday morning about whether I should go to class or not, it came down to making the decision to simply go. To do something I knew, without a doubt, would benefit me.  This one class completely changed the direction for me.  

I believe it's easy for most of us to make things more complicated than they are.  I look back to Monday morning and have to laugh a little at myself for getting so worked up about a situation I had little control over and how I let that lead the way into believing that I had to create further disharmony for myself.

I remember so clearly a conversation with a friend of mine, who is in the field of social work.  We were talking about how it is human nature to want stay with something that may not be good for us because the familiarity provides comfort to us.   She used an interesting analogy.  She told me how in her experience as a social worker, children, abused by a parent, would often rather stay with that parent than to get taken from their home, something they know, and be put into a better situation. At first, I found this hard to believe.  It seemed pretty clear to me that if you were being hurt, the first thing you would want would be to be separated and put into the hands of someone more able to care for you. 

As I thought about how this idea applied to my life, I realized that there are plenty of things I choose to do simply because they are familiar to me and not necessarily the best for me.

As I am about to step into the sixth class of my 100 days, my commitment  to myself is to be willing to be uncomfortable at times if it means that It's leading me towards my better health and well being emotionally, mentally and physically.
New students will often share their apprehensions about starting their Bikram Yoga practice.  Continuing students often share what discomforts they have in the room.

What inspires me the most are the conversations from both, new and continuing students, sharing how good they feel after class and the things that have changed in their practice and in their life as a result of their efforts with their yoga practice.  Eleven year later, I am still in awe at the tremendous benefits available through this yoga practice.

I look forward to seeing where these next 100 days take me and I look forward to sharing them with you in our shared connection through our yoga practice in the hot room.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gratitude Journal June 17, 2014

Last week, I was teaching a 9:30 class. It was a class full of mostly women. Many moms. Some college students. And one man, Mark Kent. The class seemed surprisingly hotter and more humid than usual. Although, I should not have been a surprise as summer is upon us, I remember it catching me off guard. Often with the seasons' change, it takes some time to accept the differences that come along with the freshness of the news.

The class was moving along with great effort and a desire to work through class with an acceptance of the extra wetness in the air.

Mark, who always seems to give 150% in each class, seemed to be having an especially difficult time and took a knee midway through the standing series, deciding to retreat to Savasana shortly after.

The class continued on with the same effort and desire as was started with.

It was halfway through the floor series, when I looked over at Mark and noticed for the first time every in my ten years of teaching the true meaning of Savasana. He was so still. His eyes, open. His breathing, normal. You could feel the fluidity of his breath and see the effect it was having on his body. One of my favorite postures to watch is Standing Bow. There is something about that posture for me. To watch someone mentally and physically move into this posture has always left me in awe. This day, Mark's Savasana was the grandest Standing Bow I have ever seen. I am not sure if I would sit in Savasana for the amount of time he did, completely present and so very still.

I told him, this class may be one of his top ten to remember.

I didn't realize until days later what I really learned from Mark and his Savasana.

In my ten plus years as a yoga student, I have found myself on many occasions, working through some of my "stuff". The stuff that often has taken me to my knees, physically and emotionally. During many of these times, I have found it difficult to get myself into the room. Although I tell myself that it is the place I need to be, I find it too difficult to look at myself in the mirror. The mirror, my biggest challenger.

On the morning of Mark Kent's Champion Savasana, I knew I was witnessing something that had a great impact on me personally. And the days following, led me to know for sure that if I can just get myself in the room on one of these days and simply be present in Savasana, I can reach something I didn't even know existed for me. Namaste.

Gratitude Journal May 29, 2014

I woke up this morning to the sounds of birds chirping outside of my bedroom window and thought to myself, "Oh god, I don't know if I have it in me to do it again today."

I hesitate as I write this and wonder will I actually click on the Publish button because I think I am supposed to appear that it is easy. I think I am expected to act and speak and write as if I am filled with great joy every second of my day with little effort.

Truthfully, this isn't so.

While I always have my to do lists for the day, it seems that, for some time now, I have been waking not knowing what my day will bring. Most days, my to do list has tripled in size by lunchtime.

Oddly enough, I find myself, one again, wondering who I am to others , but mostly to myself. I can write lists of things I do, or don't do for that matter, in my various roles as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a studio owner, a friend, a sister, a daughter. My life seems to have become a series of things to be do. Responsibilities to be filled.

However, I realize that the one place I find myself in complete peach is in the yoga room, teaching. I wish somehow I could explain the true value in the gift that has been given to me through this experience, but somehow words are not enough.

When I walked into class today, I was thankful that Choon was practicing, if for some reason, I was unable to teach. If I just couldn't do it, Choon was there to take over.

What happened instead though, as I looked around the room I saw people who I had chatted with before class started, people who I have practiced next to, people who show up and try their hardest to do their best and people who trust that I will show up and try my hardest to do my best.

I often say in class that you will leave class feeling better than when you arrived, feeling lighter and more open and filled with a greater sense of well being. I know that is true because I feel this way when I am with all of you. I feel this way when I am willing to be truthful to and about myself. I feel this way when I am willing to trust in doing what I know to be the most amazing thing. Yoga.

I am off to be and I expect that when I wake to the birds chirping tomorrow morning, that I will be filled with a sense of possibility and maybe a little excitement towards the day.

Gratitude Journal May 20, 2014

As far back as I can remember, I was always a person who wanted to know more, understand more, and was always curious enough to seek out what more was. As intriguing as this always was for me and continues to be, I find that it has often gotten me into a bit of trouble, sometimes unable to settle into just letting things be.

This past weekend I found myself forced to look at a pretty big fear of mine. And instead of asking why or how or spending time on trying to figure out how to change or fix it, I decided to do something different. I decided to react to it in a completely different way than I normally would have in the past. I decided to simply let it be. I let it be uncomfortable. I let it be filled with questions that I wouldn't consider needing to know the answers to. Remarkably, it turns out that this something I have been afraid of, that showed up for me to face, has actually been one of my greatest gifts. It has reminded me of my ability to be more than I was afraid I was not. It has reminded me to do what is right instead of worrying that it might be wrong. I share this because I have been given a great opportunity to be in the position I am in as the studio owner if Bikram Yoga Hamburg. I am continuously amazed at how the collective curiosity we share at the studio through practicing yoga together and sharing conversations together, makes us individually better because we do it together as a community.

So many times throughout this past year and a half I have felt, I have thought, I have said out loud, "I just can't do this anymore. This is too hard. I don't have what it takes to keep this thing going."

But then I walk into class to practice or into the yoga room to teach or find myself in conversation out in the lobby and I am reminded that I am hardly alone doing this. Thank god for each one of you showing up, having the patience, the determination, the strength and the trust.

Please know that for everyone of the thanks yous I receive, there are dozens said back to each one of you.