Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm Waiting For You

I attended a master class by a well known yoga instructor. I overheard how awesome he was at a conference in San Francisco and was delighted to find out he was coming to our town. The day of the master class I left the house extra early to make it to the west side of town in rush hour traffic in time for the "show". I arrived almost an hour before the scheduled start. The room was abuzz; yogis were talking excitedly and stretching on their mats with their noses on their knees and toes pointing to heaven. I enjoyed meeting the other yoga instructors and students at the session. The starting time came and went and the "famous" instructor was nowhere to be found. We received an update on their status - they had landed and were on their way in rush hour traffic. (They mentioned the instructor had another workshop that day and was coming directly from that - it appeared to be a case of poor scheduling). The instructor was laid back about his arrival when he finally did make it. After an hour and a half of lecture we finally started to move for the master class but I was already very disappointed.

I think some people just let it go because this was a famous person that they worshiped. But for me it was a small thing that told a lot about him.

Your audience looks forward to you. Many times they spend money, rearrange their schedules and make every effort to be there at the start for you. You should give them the same consideration.

I know. Sometimes unpredictable circumstances cause us to be late and that is understandable. I have given myself double the time to get to a speaking engagement only to find myself at a standstill in traffic because of an accident that closed the freeway and I should have given myself triple the time - who knew?! But those times are few and far between. Just not planning enough time to get there tells your audience they are not worth your time. What message are you sending?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get Outside the Studio Thinking

At a recent yoga gathering I mentioned my search for the perfect location for a yoga studio. I had investigated several locations. Some were too big (though I imagine someday I will need that much space!), some were too small without enough parking spaces for the members, but none were "just right" yet. A particularly positive yogi suggested expanding my search to include houses or other interesting buildings that could be fixed up and used as a studio. I immediately pictured "Yoga Barn" in the middle of a field with a man made lake (fake lake - as I call them) in the woods and this beautiful yoga barn!

I have yoga in the park, and yoga on the lake, and yoga at the beach - why not in the barn?!

As a student we are conditioned to stay on the mat. We hardly venture off the mat and try our poses on the floor or turn our mat to a different orientation besides facing the front. When I teach I walk about the room, dropping to a pose near whichever student I was helping last, sometimes on the floor, sometimes taking my mat with me as I move about the room! I am often off the mat hanging out on the grass striking a pose when I teach at the park.

We need to be open to different possibilities and I am grateful for the yogi who opened my eyes to a different place for a studio. I will try to keep my mind and my eyes open all the time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pomodoro Technique

As I was preparing for a business class on Increasing Your Personal Effectiveness, I came across a technique called Pomodoro. We are bombarded with internal and external interruptions that prevent us from focusing on our work tasks. The internal interruptions include - our mind wandering from our work to constantly getting up to get a drink of water or other activities that prevents us from staying on task. External interruptions include phone calls and visitors. The Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted time. During that time you are to stay focused on one task. You do not allow yourself a break until the 25 minutes are up. Then you take a five minute break from your work - and return to it for another "Pomodoro" - 25 minute stint. The process is continued for four "Pomodoros", after which you are allowed a 30 minute break.

Just as we focus on the breath in yoga and I am sometimes distracted by movement and comings and goings in the room, I am distracted from my work. Sometimes, I feel like I am constantly working without the progress I would expect for the time invested. So, I decided to try the Pomodoro technique today. It was amazing how much I was able to accomplish when I focused on my projects for 25 minute intervals. I will share this technique with my business classes.

Oh, by the way, my Pomodoros included a 25 minute nap too! I consider that a very important task!

Try the technique and let me know what happens. More details are available on the Internet - just Google "Pomodoro technique"!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Heads Up Driving Week - Oct 5-11

AAA is encouraging drivers to participate in Heads Up Driving Week by not texting or talking on the cell phone while driving. It is to encourage us to focus on our driving, not the person on the other end of the message or call, making our roads safer for everyone.

In yoga class we start with breathing exercises that help us with our focus as we breathe in and out in different rhythms, always focusing on the breath. I reminded my class of this focus tonight, and encouraged them to also take the Heads Up focus on driving challenge.

Heads Up this week!
I hope it lasts more than a week.
Why don't you try it and let me know how it works for you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't Miss the Show

When we arrived at the wedding reception, my yoga friend asked if I caught the sunset on the drive over the bridge. I had missed it and that surprises me. Sunsets, sunrises, the moon and the stars are my favorite "shows" and apparently I missed a good one. I vowed to myself not to miss tonight's show and it did not fail to impress me.

One of my friends always commented on the sunset if I happened to catch them on the phone on their way home from work. I like people who notice those events.

The weather is getting cooler - it is time to start yoga in the park at sunset. Maybe you will join us for one.

Let me know where you view the next sunrise, sunset or moon rise from.

Don't miss the next show.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Embrace Your Imperfections

I had a wonderful experience this evening at a local community church. A few weeks ago a girlfriend invited me to this Ladies Night Out. I hesitated at first because I knew I would be tied up with teaching business classes for several days straight, including a business trip out of town, and I would be coming in late and tired the afternoon of the event. But, I said YES and am so glad I did.

The event theme was “Embrace Imperfection” – our imperfections.

It started with a light dinner (sandwiches and salads – yum!!) and the opportunity to meet new friends. Then we went in to the assembly area for -

  • awesome singing and music
  • a presentation by the ladies program director on all the magazines that promote and urge us to make or have the perfect meal, make-up, body, sex, …
  • testimonies from women about their obsessions for the perfect life, children and houses
  • an interpretation of the scripture with God's message to strive for perfection
  • then more awesome singing and upbeat music

It ended with us going back to our tables for cookies – yum!! (my girlfriend and I tracked down the chocolate cookies!) – and socializing - a few of my favorites things!

We were encouraged to accept our imperfections and embrace them and enjoy them for they are what make us unique.

I plan to remind my yoga people to embrace their imperfect yoga poses because they are what make the class and each of them so unique. The way they perform each pose is perfect for them.

At a recent yoga party I conducted, one of the ladies - having never done yoga before - approached each yoga pose with abandon - squealing with delight as she danced and expressed herself with open arms to each new twist of her body. It was a delight to watch. And though her poses did not mimic the perfect pictures in the yoga books, they were as perfect as they could be. If we all could only be so comfortable - and embrace our imperfections. Try it and let me know how it feels.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stuff, Stuff and More Stuff

I feel like a bag lady when I walk into the gym loaded up with all the items I need to teach my yoga class. There is the bag full of yoga mats for those members who don't own one, music, yoga blocks and straps, my zafu cushion, etc... If I teach two classes in a row, I may have another bag for that class - maybe filled with my cycling shoes, music, water, towels, etc... Over time the bags can get heavy as I toss in more music and things I might need. Occasionally I do a "spring" cleaning on a bag and dump the contents out on the floor. I am always amazed at what has accumulated. I sort through the items, end up throwing away a few things and feel much lighter and more organized as a result.

Spring cleaning isn't just for the spring. Try to get rid of some of your excess "stuff" this week. Just go through one drawer or bag or closet. Let me know how it works out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am Positive You Are Negative

I had a toy clown growing up that was plastic and filled with air. It had sand in the bottom so that when you punched it, the clown popped back up to standing. I have often compared myself to that clown and many agree. No matter what is going on, I don't stay down for long. Usually, I am hopelessly optimistic.

But, when I took my latest horse back riding lesson I fell into the negative mode. The instructor had me trot the horse around the arena for several laps. She wanted me to focus on keeping the horse going. According to her, I did an excellent job. But, according to me there were so many things I wasn't doing right - my heels weren't down in the stirrups, I leaned forward sometimes, ... When I stopped I immediately started listing all of the things I could have done better and she asked me to stop. Sure, there were things I could improve on but I had done exactly as I was instructed and I really had things under control. So, why was I focusing on all the things I did wrong?

It is natural for us.

For this week, try to see all of the things that are going right and what you are doing right. Yes, we could improve on some things and we will keep those in mind. But try to be more focused on what is going right.

I always encourage my yoga students to do that. I need to remember to do it more for myself.

Let me know how you have focused more on the positive than the negative this week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Beach - It Isn't Hawaii but ...

I love to escape to the beach by myself and set up my lounge chair on the sand near the seawall. I usually take some reading materials, my Spanish book and a notepad and pen with great intentions of "getting a lot done" while I am there. In reality, those books rarely make it out of my bag. When they do, they end up open with my face planted on them as I doze off lulled by the sound of the crashing waves. I actually do a lot of thinking, and come up with some workable ideas so it is not that important that the pen does not actually touch the paper. Then, I flip over occasionally, and feebly try to stay awake again. I alternate my little cat naps with walks on the beach or wave surfing. The ride home with the sun setting tops off a fabulous day. I come home so relaxed and appreciative of the opportunity to visit my office in Galveston!

Some people nix Galveston because it isn't anywhere near as pretty as Hawaii. Oh, I agree with that. But there are some days when that water is such a pretty deep blue, there isn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature is just perfect, that the fact it isn't Hawaii doesn't enter my mind. I feel sorry for those people who won't even try it. They are missing a beautiful day at the beach.

Some of my yoga poses aren't anywhere near as pretty as those on the front cover of the Yoga Journal either. But I still like to go into my poses and see where they take me that day.

So, stop being so hard on yourself and the world - enjoy.

A Million Stars

I found a comfortable place on the top of the picnic table and relaxed on my back staring up into the night sky. What a view! So many stars were visible that it was impossible to count. What a contrast to the view I usually experience from my house in the suburbs. But tonight I was out in the country - way out in the country - and I was going to be present in the moment and enjoy every minute of it. I was teaching a business class for a power plant and was staying at a "rustic" lodge near the plant. I love the city but there is something about walking in the woods, hanging out just staring at the sky, not rushing to go anywhere or to do anything - that is SO GOOD for the soul. And I wanted to take in every minute of it before I sent myself off to bed to rest for work for the next day.

In yoga class I remind my students to be present in the class, to leave their troubles at the door and enjoy the hour they have given themselves to take care of just them. So many times we miss out on what is before us because we are thinking about what we should have done or what we should be doing or what we have to do when we finish what we are doing now...

Try to be more present in your moments. Enjoy where you are - even if it isn't exactly where you thought you would be or it didn't turn out exactly like you thought it would or how you wanted it to be. It is what it is and I encourage you to enjoy it anyway.

Then - tell me about it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Should Try It!

A friend mentioned to me that a local yoga studio was offering free classes all week as they transitioned to a new format. I managed to work a class into my schedule on the only day I was going to be in town during the offer. It was a wonderful opportunity to sit back and enjoy a yoga class from the perspective of a student. I left the studio relaxed and rejuvenated.

I passed the word on to my students that evening, inviting them to try something new with the added benefit of it being free. There were a variety of formats for them to choose from - even classes for the athlete or advanced person willing to give it a go for two hours straight! I look forward to the reports on their experiences next week.
  • How many of them will actually take advantage of the opportunity for something new?
  • When is the last time you tried something new?
Look for opportunities to try something new every day. It doesn't have to be something huge! It can be a simple as a new food. When someone invites you to try something new, consider it seriously. You just might discover a new passion.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Lock Me Out!

I was setting up for my yoga class one evening and was over by the stereo on the far wall from the entrance to the room. I looked up and noticed someone at the entrance. I went back to my setup, expecting them to join us for class. Shortly after, I looked up again and noticed the person was still at the door trying to get into the room. I thought the door must have locked somehow and walked over to let them in. In the meantime, they gave up and stomped off down the hall. I tried to call after them but they disappeared around the corner. A few days later I received a call that a member had complained because I locked them out of the room.

I would never lock someone out of the room. At first, I didn't realize they couldn't get in. But - from their view through the other side of the door - it was a very different perspective.

We jump to conclusions very quickly and assume how we see things is the right version of the story. Then, we start acting as if that is really a fact. And it goes on from there. I am just as guilty of those assumptions as the next person. I've heard them referred to as Employee Olympics at the office - "jumping to conclusions"!

Check yourself the next time you start telling yourself a story about a situation. What other explanations could there be for what is or has happened? Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Check your version of the story with them before you react. I think you will find that things are not always as they seem.

When have you jumped to conclusions? What are your stories? What have you learned from those events?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bumblebees and Fish

The Pike Syndrome is similar to the Bumblebee Theory in regard to imaginary obstacles we set up for ourselves. In my business classes I utilize the story of the northern pike that was placed in one half of an aquarium with minnows swimming freely and visibly in the other half of the tank - divided by a glass partition. The pike makes numerous unsuccessful attempts to get to the minnows, only succeeded in battering its nose against the glass divider. Slowly the pike “learns” that reaching the minnows is impossible, and seems to resign itself to its fate. When the glass partition is removed, the pike does not attack the minnows, even though they swim right under it's nose! This illustrates the pike syndrome, which is characterized by ignoring differences in situations, assuming complete knowledge, rigid commitment to the past and refusal to consider alternatives among others.

Think about something that you would really like to do but have avoided because of the many obstacles you believe are in your way. How many times have you told yourself that you don't have enough of something to get it done? Write down the obstacles that you think are in your way and determine if they are real or imaginary. You may realize the obstacles are only in your head - like the pike.

The Bumblebee Theory

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” - Mary Kay Ash

The story refuses to die. Insect flight aerodynamics are full of complexities and I (engineer though I am) have never attempted the calculations with angles of attack, vortex shedding and other terms that make some heads spin. I prefer to believe the story!

I occasionally retell the bumblebee story to my yoga students. I try not to tell them that "only advanced people can do this pose", or "you are a beginner so don't try this", etc... I tell them to pay attention to their bodies and the messages they are given. If something doesn't feel right they should back off. They should go slowly into the pose and pay attention to how it feels. But don't start with the mindset that you can't do something - be like the bumblebee.

I tell them - "someday - not - no way!"

What have you been avoiding because you told yourself you couldn't do it before you even tried?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yoga on the Tee Box

The golf course was beautiful (Magnolia Creek) but my golfing was not! Except - when I took a nice slow long yoga breath in and out before hitting the ball. It seemed to help my drives quite a bit.

Pranayama is loosely defined as life giving breath. We practice different breathing patterns (pranayama) at the start of our yoga sessions and focus on the breath as we work through poses.

Try this pattern - take a deep slow breath in for a count of eight, pause for a few seconds and then exhale out for a count of eight, always breathing in and out through the nose.

Now, think about a situation where you are sometimes a little stressed. Try the breath pattern above before that situation - a presentation or a golf swing or a difficult conversation or responding to an unfocused driver on the road or ...

Let me know how it works for you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let the Good Thoughts Roll - Off Your Tongue

I was in line at the grocery store and noticed the woman behind me looking at me. I wondered what was wrong. Had I dropped something? Were my clothes ripped? Was my ice cream melting on the floor? Then to my surprise she said, "I'm sorry for staring but you have the most beautiful legs!" And that was the start of a most glorious day for me.

My favorite yoga instructor always started class with a story. One night she asked us to think about all the positive things we think about other people. Then she asked, "Why don't we let people know what we are thinking"? She encouraged us to tell people - even strangers on the street - those positive thoughts.

I usually do, but made a mental note to be even more aware of it knowing the effect it had on me.

I challenge you to "Let the good thoughts roll off your tongue"! Try it and let me know the results. I look forward to your stories.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Life is a Party

"My life is a party to be shared and experienced with everyone I know" - UNKNOWN

My 50th birthday was a year long celebration of events including a week long beach house party and a trip to Chicago with friends and relatives. While in Chicago, a perfect note (above) describing my life turned up on my hotel room pillow complete with my favorite food - chocolate. The goal of my blog is to share yoga related stories and happenings that provide tips for bringing more joy, love and zest to your personal and work life.

Let's party!!