Going Gray: Inspiration
*photo credit: http://waytofamous.com/22043-marian-seldes.html
I find it important to stay inspired while pursuing any new endeavor. By learning about the journey of others and how they have navigated a path, I find new ideas to test out and new thoughts to consider. As an artist and creator, I also find inspiration in the artistic expression of others.
My yoga students often give me thoughtful and inspiring surprise gifts. About a year ago, a dear student gave me the book “Wise Woman, ” by photographer Joyce Tenneson. What a treasure of a book. It is a collection of photographs of women over 40, combined with inspiring quotes and thoughts on their life. It was a fitting gift considering my website title of “Powerful Woman Yoga,” but it is even more fitting now on my going gray journey as many women in the book reflect on the idea of dyeing hair.
Here are the words of the late actress Marian Seldes:
“My grandmother always used to say, ‘If you know your part and you know where you have to go, why do you rehearse?’ I always remember this, and it’s true. You have to start each day again- you can’t repeat what you did. When I let my hair go gray I felt an enormous freedom. All those years of having my hair dyed- why do we do that?”
Are you dyeing your hair, or thinking of going gray? Let me know your thoughts and inspiration in the comments below.
I am so proud of Myriad Yoga Teacher Training’s 300 hour graduates! They have worked extra hard, juggling homework, 108 yoga classes, Kirtan, workshops to manage, and so much more, over the past 18 months. These lady are an inspiration in so many ways. It has been an honor to work with them.
Pictured above: Jyl Bradley, Kristi Veverka, Paige Jarvis, Jenny Armstrong, Kim Wenger-Hall, and Ruth Ticknor.
Congratulations 300 Hour Graduates!
*Photo credit: Tammy Strobel, Rowdy Kittens
This past week was full, with both leisure time, work, and planning. We celebrated a birthday for Josh, I dealt with preparations for my 2 teacher training program weekends coming up, and worked on organizing sharing our big events hosting Swami Gurusharanananda in just a few weeks. I like to stay inspired by my rural world and the world at large so I keep note of inspiring moments. Here are five inspiring moments from my week:
1. The Standing Rock Protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you haven’t heard about it, read this article by Bill McKibben.
And if you feel moved to help this cause, if water, air, and land are important to you, Donate $5 to the Standing Rock Reservation.
2. Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens. She lived in a tiny house for a while, and now blogs about living big with a small impact. In part, this post is inspired by her emails. I hope to continue to include regular inspiring moment lists.
3. Because of a post by Tammy, I was inspired to create a “What I’m Doing Now” list. It is a post on my blog. I encourage you to make your own list, read more about why it’s a good idea.
4. Project 333. I’ve talked about it before, and now one year after learning about it I am finally, actually, following through. Thirty three articles of clothing, for 3 months. Think about it…
More reasons why we should simplify
5. “Eating You Alive” looks like an interesting movie. Check out the trailer.
There was a lot more that caught my eye this week. But one can only take in so much information at a time. If you feel moved, share one thing that inspired you in the comments below.
Seven Things I Love About Summer
Some folks say that to live in a warm climate with lush green all year grows old and boring. Some folks say they need the change in seasons to feel connected and find an internal rhythm. I can’t speak for the boredom of green all year, as I have never experienced it myself. But I do trust that I would miss the change of the seasons were I to live in a more tropical location. Part of practicing contentment is to find joy and peace no matter the weather. The transition of seasons brings to mind the Buddhist ideal to accept the present moment as it is, for to wish or long for something different is the root of all suffering. While I do have a touch of sadness for the close of summer, I find it a useful practice to reflect on points of gratitude for the closing season. Here is my list of seven things I love about summer:
Fresh local berries are in abundance from June onward. We like to pick them fresh and local, freezing for the winter. Strawberries start the season, lush and red, next up are blueberries. Raspberries come along somewhere in between, and they usually give you a second run in the fall. Blackberries mark the end of summer, with their sharp sting and itch. It’s always wise to wear long pants and shoes when picking these angry berries.
I Love Peaches. Fresh, juicy, fuzzy. I will make Josh drive out of our way to visit a farm with fresh peaches. Not much more to say. Peaches.
I used to be very afraid of these tiny creatures! They make a very loud buzz when they come by and it would always startle me. My brother and I used to think they would peck at our heads. But now I know they want nothing to do with us, and would much prefer a petunia or nasturtium. Recently, I have noticed that hummingbirds chirp! I hear their deep resonant buzz, but underneath that they make a light chirping noise! Listen for it the next time you see one!
If you know me, you know that I love gardens and gardening. I am an amateur gardener, but I can’t help myself around flowers and herbs! I will seek out local gardens for inspiration and peace of mind. I love to sit on my deck and watch the many birds and butterflies flutter about my home garden, and I find a real joy in putting together a meal, complete with herbs, from my home veggie garden, and in creating a salad topped with fresh flowers. The garden is the thing I miss most when summer ends.
We are very lucky to live among some of the most beautiful mountains in the country. This summer, our family has been cultivating the habit of hiking more mountains. My brother Dennis is sort of a celebrity in the hiking world. You can find him on Instagram as “Albinebee” for some amazing mountain views. Eastern Mountain Sports has courted him for his posts and pictures on hiking. He prefers to stick to the White Mountains of NH, and you can find him on a Mountain just about every weekend, rain, shine, or snow! As homeschoolers, we have been making mountain hiking our PE our priority. We have only hiked a few so far this summer, but I think we could fit in a couple more!
Some folks only do campfires when they go camping. We recently went camping in Ithaca, NY, and never lit a fire the whole time! Honestly, we were feeling rather snobby about the camp fire pit and location. We much preferred our home campfire. We are used to an amazing view and privacy at our home campfire pit. Our favorite thing to do is to invite our families over to a veggie roast with marshmallows and sparklers. The kids toast marshmallows and ride our zip and slack lines while the adults chat around the fire. We do this almost every weekend in the summer.
7. Family Time
We seem to make more time for family in the summer. Whether it is summer BBQs, campfires, trips to the beach, family vacations, or sitting outside at night, family seems to be a priority in the summer season. Something about the warm slow buzz of summer makes us want to connect more. I hope to take this warmth with me as we move into the autumn season, like preserving vegetables for winter, or stacking wood for the winter fire, as a nourishment for the soul.
Mid Summer is a time of Nature’s joyful enthusiasm. Gardens are at peak. Flowers bloom at all colors, bees, bugs, and butterflies flutter about all day long. Sitting outside in the sun or shade can rejuvenate your soul. There is a deep whispering peace that we soak in at this time. Our yoga practice emulates this joy in the many shapes and postures that are inspired by the natural world. By taking on these shapes, we invoke the many myriad qualities of nature’s joy.
Let this joyful abundance seep into your pours from all around. Approach each new day with warmth, calm, new beauty, and and unrolling in glorious exuberance. May your practice renew your joy each day. Expand deeply into the breath like a soft summer breeze. Feel grounded in your seat like an old oak tree. As you rise, float into the space like a winged creature in air.
John Muir Poem
My first Summer in Sierra
“How deep our sleep last night in the mountain’s heart, beneath the trees and stars, hushed by solemn-sounding waterfalls and many small soothing voices in sweet accord, whispering peace!
And our first pure mountain day, warm, calm, cloudless, -how immeasurable it seems, how serenely wild! I can scarcely remember its beginnin. Along the river, over hills, in the ground, in the sky, summer work is going on with joyful enthusiasm, new life, new beauty, unfolding, unrolling in glorious exuberant extravagance, – new birds in their nests, new winged creatures in the air, and new leaves, new flowers, spreading, shining, rejoicing everywhere.”
Breath is an essential component of the yoga practice. The focus on the breath distinguishes yoga from other forms of physical practice. The breath becomes the bridge between the physical layers of being, and the more subtle and spiritual layers of being. Pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is said that awareness of the breath opens the doors to the deeper components of the practice: concentration, mediation, and bliss.
”Prana – Ayama”
Prana= life force manifested through the breath
Ayama= to stretch or extend
Pranayama= to maneuver or direct the life force
You can begin a Pranayama practice at any time to experience the deep benefits. We are always breathing, so even if you are not well or unable to move in a full physical practice, Pranayama offers your the ability to practice no matter the physical or environmental circumstances. You can adapt the practice to meet your individual needs. If you need more energy, or if you need some calming effect.
Take a tall comfortable seat, either supported on the floor, or in a firm chair. Sit with your spine straight, a well supported base, your chin slightly tucked. Notice the full flow of breath. First, simply observe the breath. Noticing builds your relationship with the breath. This basic observation of the breath and sensations of breathing might be your full pranayama practice. If at any point during any of these practices you feel light headed, dizzy, or uncomfortable, release the technique and return to your normal breath. Always contact your doctor or health care provider if you have any concerns.
Ujjai Breath- Victorious Breath- Ocean Wave Breath
Gently constrict the muscles at the back of the throat by pretending to fog a mirror, or saying “haa” with the exhale. Close mouth and continue this breath. Benefits: calming effect, regulates breath.
Kapalabhati- skull shining- sometimes “breath of fire”
Practice this technique by beginning a panting breath, like a dog pants. Open the mouth and pant. Notice the way the belly/diaphram pulses in and out. Close the mouth and continue this breath through the nose. It should be a rhythmic breath, light like sniffing. Inhale should be effortless, its the exhale you are forcing out. Repeat 20-30 breaths. Stop and take a few normal breaths. Repeat another 25-30. Continue with this pattern 2 or 3 times. Release if you feel dizzy or uncomfortable. Benefits: energizing, stimulating, and heating breath.
Nadi Shodhana- Alternate Nostril Breath
Using the hands, peace fingers bend to palm, thumb and ring open (or any comfortable position) to close one nostril at a time. Full breath in and out. Close right nostril, inhale left. Close Left, exhale right. Inhale right. Close right, exhale left. Inhale Left. Close left, exhale right. Continue with this pattern for any length of time, 2-12 minutes or more. Optional: Can use breath count: 4 breath in, 8 hold, exhale 8, repeat, or any other combination. Benefits: calming effect, cleanses right and left channels, purifies.
Samvritti- Same pause, same fluctuation
Take a full breath in and out. Exhale out a little more. Inhale to count of 3. Hold the breath to the count of 3. Exhale to the count of 3. Take a normal breath. Repeat same count of 3. After 2 or 3 rounds, increase the pause to the count of 4. Take a normal breath. Repeat. Increase to count of 5. Close with a few normal breaths.Benefits: calming effect, regulates the breath.
Sitali- Cooling breath
Take a few normal breaths. Exhale the breath, and exhale a little more. Then, curl the tongue or open the mouth and stick the tongue out. Lightly “sip” the breath in, feeling the cool sensation of the breath over the tongue. Exhale through the nose. Repeat this pattern, inhale through open mouth, and or curled tongue, exhale through the nose. Benefits: calms and cools the body.
So Hum- Breath Meditation “I am That” or “I am Connected”
Sitting comfortably, notice your breath. Observe its pattern, observe the sensation of the breath. Where does if flow freely? Where might it feel blocked? It’s ok if you can’t feel completely. Just observe. Begin the meditation. Think and hear in your mind “SO” on the inhalation. Think and hear “Hum” on exhale. Repeat this for 5 or more minutes. Benefits: calming to the mind, centering.
What types of breathing practices have you tried? Where do you feel the breath in your body? What sensations arise? Do you notice any changes from regular Pranayama practice? Notice your relationship with your breath. Let me know how you respond to the breath.