Friday, December 16, 2011

Don't Mess with My World

I was running a few errands the other day and was leaving a parking lot. As I turned onto the main street, I saw a drink cup fly out of the window of the car in front of me. Being the "save the world and recycle" kind of girl that I am, I was appalled and considered getting out of my car to pick up the cup and give it back to the driver. I figured I would just be left standing in the road with a paper cup as the offending driver drove off ahead of me. So, I gave up on that thought.

It turned out that we were both stopped at the next light side by side, with her to my right. My convertible top and windows were down and her window was open. So tempting, so so tempting. I just had to say something (being the "say what's on your mind" kind of girl that I am!) and so I did. "Please don't throw trash out your window" I said in a polite tone. She yelled back "Did you see me throw trash out my window?". "Yes, I did.", I replied. And she continued yelling all sorts of things back at me - including "mind your own business!". "It is my business. You are messing up my world", I replied. I felt sorry for the three kids in the car and only hoped they would see that throwing the trash out the window was wrong, not that their mom going ballistic was right. Maybe the driver would stop and think next time before she threw something out her window. I can only hope. It ended peacefully and I am still alive. She rolled her window up and I considered making a u-turn and going back to pick up the cup.

I think it is important to speak up when things are not right. It is not always the easy thing to do but sometimes it is the only way to get things to change for the better. Let people know things are not ok.

I occasionally give out cards to my yoga students. There are three questions on the card -

1. What am I doing that you like and want me to keep doing?
2. What am I doing that you don't like and want me to stop doing?
3. What am I not doing that you would like me to start doing?

They said there wasn't anything they wanted me to stop doing. I guess things are all right - at least in my yoga world.

Confirm Receipt

I noticed on my phone that I missed a call from one of my personal training clients but there wasn't a "message waiting" symbol so I let it go. Sometimes people accidentally dial your number and hang up quickly before you answer. The next morning I went to pick him up for our workout session and he wasn't ready. "Didn't you get my voice message?", he asked. "No, I didn't", I replied. I checked my phone and there were no messages. I didn't doubt he called and left a message. Cell phone technology leaves much to be desired. I told him it wasn't a big deal but to think about the implications in other business situations. He is a young man, new to the business world. I suggested that he confirm receipt of messages when dealing with business associates. As he could see, you can't rely on voice messages and text messages to always go through or be read by the other person. Their time table for checking messages may be very different than yours. He agreed to the importance of confirmation.

A few years back I was carpooling to a yoga event with a girlfriend. We were going to ride together in my convertible. The weather was perfect for a "hair blowing in the breeze, sun on your face" kind of day. A friend of hers decided to join us for the class. My car only has room for two ("Useless" - is how one friend's husband has always described it. I say - room enough for my friend and our two beach chairs. Who needs anything else!). I needed a top down day and left her a voice mail message on her work phone that I would ride on my own and meet them there. After a while I didn't hear back so I called again but couldn't leave a message because her voice mail box was full. I called and left a message on her cell phone and her house phone and e-mailed her, but never got a confirmation that my message was received. I went to the rendezvous spot to wait, thinking she hadn't received my message. She happened to drive by on her way to the class and see me in the parking lot waiting. She pulled in and asked why I was there. "I thought you were going on your own!". "I never got a confirmation that you received my message!", I replied. A simple e-mail, text or quick call back would have avoided a lot of confusion.

In yoga, I ask permission to adjust a student's pose. And they give an indication it is ok or let me know of an injury or issue to watch out for as I help them get deeper in the pose. I always encourage them to listen to their body as they move into poses and pull back if it doesn't feel right. Your body is trying to return your call and let you know the message was received. Watch for those cues.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun Size

Catalogs arrive at the house weekly - even more near the holidays. I like to look through the ones with entertaining t-shirts and games and puzzles. My most recent favorite was a t-shirt that read "I'm Not Short - I'm Fun Size". I have several friends that are shorter than me and considered whether they would find this entertaining or insulting if they received it as a gift. Actually, I think I am shrinking down to fun-size myself. We keep track of our sons' growth on the wall next to the kitchen pantry. The last time we were all together we lined up for measuring. I have to get on a stool to measure the boys as they are several inches over six foot now. Because of that, they don't have to get on a stool for me, even though I am a tall woman. On my turn, I was shocked to find I had lost a half an inch. I was sure that with yoga I would stay the same size forever. It was disheartening as this is one of those "you are getting old" signs.

I find I have been more focused on getting my yoga students to lengthen their spine and stand up taller in all of their poses since my shrinking revelation. "Try to touch your head to the ceiling" I say as they practice their tree pose. I guess I am hoping somehow to regain that lost half of an inch or keep them from being the bottom mark on the measuring wall at their house.

Maybe my husband just tilted the ruler when he measured me so I would think I was getting shorter - how funny would that be? Or maybe I should just accept my new Fun Size!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Humbling Experience

I was interviewing an executive friend of mine for one of several books I always seem to have in progress - "You Don't Look Like an Engineer!". We discussed her career and I asked her if she had any advice for a new leader. "Remain humble", she replied. "I always try to remain humble. I know I don't know everything and I know I can learn from everyone." I know it came naturally to her but it doesn't always come so easily to the rest of us.

The yoga mat can be the most innocent of humbling devices you may ever come across. So many times I hear comments from students about how flexible they used to be, the things they used to be able to do, how they didn't know they were going to sweat. Or there is usually someone making the competitive comment before we start - "How hard can a little stretching be?". And then the crying and the whining start. Ok - maybe not really crying, but I do hear whining. It can be an especially humbling experience for those that are used to being in charge and excelling at other areas of their life. I encourage them to relax, consider it a benchmark, pay attention to the feelings in their body breathe. I suggest they modify the pose to make the pose work for them and be open to taking things a little more slowly. It is hard for them to give in - but it is not giving up. Some day soon they will be laughing about that first day.

It is a lesson for us all - no matter what our position in life - to be open to learning from everyone and everything - even something as innocent looking as a rubber mat.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

I started a group on Facebook called Fun N' Fit to promote fun activities involving fitness. Our next event is this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. We are doing a yoga pose freeze flash mob. If you are not familiar with the concept - it is an event that happens in a crowded area. One person will start singing a song or dancing a routine out of the blue and within a short time a whole "mob" has emerged out of the crowd to join them. The song or dance finishes and the participants fade back into the crowd. We are going to meet at the fountain at the local mall today and freeze in a yoga pose for two minutes. Our original plan was to do a yoga warm-up routine but we simplified it to a single pose because many students were too fearful of performing it in the mall. Enthusiasm and participant count has been steadily growing since the change.

As the hour draws near I find myself getting a little nervous - which is so out of the ordinary for me. What if no one shows up? (we are meeting 15 minutes early in front of the chocolate store to assure we have enough for a go). What if we get arrested? (we called the mall and let them know we would be doing it and received no objection - and our state and city hasn't made a flash mob illegal yet - so we should be safe - besides I have another instructor set up to teach my class tomorrow if I am unavailable - aka locked up). What if I can't hold a pose for two minutes? (I told students that it was ok if they had to drop their arms or switch their pose to the other foot - it will not be a problem). So every concern has been taken care of.

I recently sent out some marketing packages for my creativity and innovation classes and need to make some follow-up calls - yet I hesitate. What am I afraid of?

It sound like the yoga pose freeze flash mob is perfectly timed. Not only does it encourage people to engage in fitness activities and fun but sometimes the activities can be a little scary. But if we participate and push ourselves out there, we gain back our fearless selves - ready to conquer the world.

I have a feeling at 4:03 today I won't be afraid anymore - how about you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

If You Do It I'll Do It

I occasionally plan adventures for my yoga class. We gather at a local park in the fall and spring when the weather is crisp to do yoga at sunset by the man made lake. We've been to the beach in the heat of the summer when the sand sticks to you everywhere and you have to run into the water between poses to cool off -- and in the fall when you reach your hand down to balance yourself in a pose and feel the cool sand instead.

I was teaching a class in the club and a scaffold ladder was in the back corner. The maintenance people used it to reach the lights of the two story high ceiling to change them out. Seeing the structure reminded me of a trip to Jamaica a few years back where the entertainment at the resort one night was a circus performance. They set up a trapeze and net near the outdoor dining area and invited guests to fly the trapeze during the day. I tried it out. I was a great advertisement for the activity. Everyone would ask where all the screaming was coming from (it was squeals of excitement - not fear - ok, maybe a little fear). I told my yoga students that I was going to find a place for us to trapeze so that they could enjoy the same thrills I had on the beach that day.

I was able to find a trapeze school school not too far away - in Austin - and started to organize a trip. Leaving class one night, I came across a few students talking out in the gym parking lot. I asked if they were going to go on the trapeze trip. They turned and looked at each other, said they were just talking about it and at the same time said, "If she does it, I'll do it!".

Scary events are easier when someone is there to do it with you. Some students are afraid of a pose but I am able to get them to try it - or at least some version of it - by encouraging them, breaking it down into easier steps, doing it with them or holding them up.

If you do it, I'll do it.
I did it. Your turn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's Your Story?

I took a walk along the beach in Grand Cayman - the water was turquoise, the sand a beautiful barely beige, bright blue sky as far as I could see and a cruise ship docked at the end of the island unloading tourists. They dropped them off so they could join the party at one part of the beach called the Reef. Hundreds of college students focused on drinking, tanning and making connections. I passed through the short stretch of chaotic beach and soon was walking in the calm again. When I returned to my beach chair, I found a couple with vividly colored matching towels had planted themselves in the sand a few feet from my beach spot. I offered them a beach chair that my brother had recently vacated, as he was a snorkeler and not a sun bather, and the conversation began.

They were originally from England, but were now living in Spain. They owned a restaurant/bar that I hoped to visit before they moved back to England in the fall after their daughter's wedding. The gentleman worked in the film industry building sets for movies. Their future son-in-law was a professional bicycle rider, soon to be riding the Tour De France. I wrote down his name so that I could look him up on the Internet when I returned to techno reality. They only had a few short hours before they had to return to the cruise ship, and this part of the beach had been recommended to them. I'm glad they found it and me and I found them and their story.

In yoga class I like to find out my students' stories - why they were there?, what did they want or need from yoga?, what did they do for work and for fun?, what made them come back?, did they want to go on a field trip to Austin to fly on the trapeze?... (thought I would slip that one in there!). There is always a story and it is always interesting to me.

People are so different - it is what makes life interesting. When we do the tree pose (i.e. standing balance) in class I always say - "All the trees in the forest are different and that is what makes the forest so interesting, all of your tree poses are different and that is what makes you so interesting".

Share your story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Road to Hana

As I basked in the beauty of my tropical surroundings absorbing my daily requirement of vitamin D from the sun, I was reminded of a trip I took to Hana a few years back on the island of Maui. The road to Hana is an incredible day trip full of waterfalls, underwater caves, trails, and black sand beaches - definitely not to be missed for those visiting the island. It is recommended that you start your trip with a visit to a little convenience store on the corner to purchase a self-guided tour on CD, load up on snacks and drinks, and jump in your car. If you miss that step you might miss the whole point of the Road to Hana.

It is a delightful day of frequent stops to enjoy scenic event after event - some involve climbing, traipsing along a trail, jumping in an underwater cave or just standing by a rushing waterfall enjoying the roar and the mist. Some adventures are not for the light of heart - many stand on the shore and watch the crazier ones dare the waves to crash over them. Once you reach Hana you are cautioned to turn around and head back in the opposite direction of how you arrived for the road ahead can be lonely and treacherous. The car rental companies warn you they will not rescue you if you decide to ignore the warnings and continue your way around the back side of the island.
"Ah - let's do it" - my husband smiled. And we did. Granted - some turns were a little "hairy" - with seemingly nothing between us and the ocean but the air. Once in a while we saw another car but they were very few and very far between. A few curves made me hold my breath but he was very careful and we were never in any real danger. My concern was reaching civilization again before the sun set so we could see where we were going as those mountain turns were no place to be in the dark. We did see a winery hidden in the hills and vowed to return the next day to check it out (from the opposite direction). We made it home to our hotel safe and sound.

"Hana?" a friend exclaimed as I detailed our trip on our return. "I drove to Hana and it wasn't all that spectacular - what is all the hoopla about?" he asked. "Did you stop at the little party store and pick up the CD", Did you stop along the way to see the waterfalls, the black sand beach, the underwater caves, the forest trails?" I asked. All his answers were "no". "Then you missed it all" I lamented. "It is not Hana itself, but the Road to Hana that is so heavenly".

In yoga, students are always asking "When willI be flexible", "How long will it take for me to be able to do that pose?", ... I would respond that "we have all the time in the world - our whole life. Enjoy the journey. It is all practice - yoga develops patience my dears - enjoy the road (to Hana)."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disconnected at last...

I was sitting in the gate area at the airport awaiting boarding for my flight to a Caribbean paradise. I just finished a call to my husband telling him we needed to take more vacations as I could already feel the stress melt away just thinking about my destination. I turned off the data reception on my phone before powering it down. No e-mails, no texts, no calls for four whole days. I experienced no sign of panic as the cell phone icon faded out - just peace as I imagined myself on the beach in my lounge chair, cold beer in hand, with the crystal turquoise water crashing up on the shore.

I recalled a recent conversation in which a friend stated with great pride that he had only taken one short vacation in the three years he had been with his company. "Why?" - I asked. It was such a foreign crazy concept to me. "The work just builds up while I am away and they can't live without me", he replied. How sad - for one to believe it, for two not to train someone to cover your work so you can escape and for three for the company to encourage this behavior and somehow think it is a good thing or to allow it.

We need recovery time.

I am often surprised how people cannot seem to turn off their phones for a short hour - whether it is in church or in yoga class - to have a peaceful experience. The world will survive without them, their friends can wait an hour for a response. You have to let yourself escape for your health.

We always rest at the end of yoga class in silence, on the floor on our backs letting everything sink into the floor completely relaxed. For some people it may be the only two minutes all day they really relaxed. It is so good for you. Turn it off. See how long you can last. Don't take that phone with you for one short errand. It is freeing.

I'll Come to Class After I Get Flexible

We all have those lists. Those things we want to do once we get to a certain point in life. Once we weigh a certain amount we will buy those fancy jeans. When we get enough money we are going to take that trip. When the kids are grown up we will finally have some free time...

I hear people say it all the time - "I can't do yoga, I'm not flexible. I'll work on getting flexible and then I will come to your class." I have to tell them - that is why you need to come now - to get flexible. If you wait until you are - the day will never get here.

See you in class.

On My Honor I Will Try

I was presenting on Creativity to a group of over 200 people at a dinner meeting of quality professionals and project managers. I mentioned a psychological study that found the more creative people think they are - the more creative they actually are. I then said we were going to TRY to change their perception of their creative selves and unleash their creative spirit. Then I laughed as I realized my blunder. I explained that I teach a course on Presentation Skills and I encourage the presenters to avoid the use of tentative phrases (i.e. try, hope). They should be confident and say "we will" or "we are going to". I asked the audience if any of them were ever boy scouts and a scattering raised their hands. "Do you remember the boy scout motto?" I asked, and a few of those hands dropped. "It starts off with - on my honor I will" I exclaimed. "How about girl scouts? any former girl scouts in the audience?" and several hands went up. "How does the girl scout motto begin?" I queried. "On my honor I will try... boy scouts will do it and girl scouts will try" I exclaimed. But tonight we WILL - change your perception of your creative self." And they were on board - and we did!

In yoga class I always tell them it is a practice not a performance. That we are going to try to do the poses and do the best we can, while always backing off if it doesn't feel right. And they TRY - and eventually they DO the pose.

Are you "trying" or are you "doing"? Even if you are only "trying" you will find that one day you end up "doing" too.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's Going On in the Closet?

I am an avid recycler. I will even bring plastic bottles and cans home from an event to recycle them if the party doesn't have a recycle bin. I keep a large plastic tub in the closet under the stairs just for plastic. I returned home early one evening from running errands and had the dry cleaning in my right hand. I opened the closet door to lean in and throw my plastic water bottle from my left hand into the bin, with my back to the door and the door started closing on me, leaving me in the closet in the dark. I knew my husband was home and thought he was trying to be funny and close me in the closet. I started laughing and called out to him. Then I turned and saw that a strap from one of the just cleaned tops had wrapped around the door handle pulling the door closed as I leaned forward toward the recycle bin. I started laughing and came out of the closet. He was across the room smiling but a bit confused - wondering why I was shutting myself in the closet. When we both realized what had really happened, we had a good laugh.

Every event has two sides to it. We need to be open to the possibility that our view is not the only possible interpretation.

In yoga class I try not to assume what people are thinking. Though sometimes I will talk out loud expressing thoughts I imagine they are thinking. From their reactions I find that I am frequently dead on.

Sometimes the stories we are imagining are a lot more fun than the reality. Come out of the closet and be open to the possibility that your view is not the only view.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Smells So Good

I worked in downtown Detroit one summer during college as an engineering intern and remember the morning drive very well. My least favorite part was getting up before the crack of dawn to meet my car pool. It was the getting up part, not the car pool members, that was difficult. They were a fun bunch of older gentlemen. A few of us were always packed into the back seat and the back seat guys would tease, offering the driver money if he would take the next turn sharply so I would fall over. I would grab the handle hanging from the ceiling and laugh that I wasn't going to "fall" for that trick. My most favorite part of the drive was smelling the freshly baking bread as we neared downtown and the Wonderbread plant. The Stroh's brewery smelled pretty good too! Now, I occasionally work in downtown Houston and it has its own unique smells. My favorite here is the smell of coffee wafting from the Maxwell House plant. I've never been able to figure out why something that smells so good tastes so bad to me. I have to resort to Diet Cokes to wake me up in the morning.

Yoga can smell pretty good too. As I walked about the yoga room among my students this morning, I noticed how great everyone smelled, fresh from the shower. I commented how great my yoga students always smell and they laughed. ("Wait 'til the end of class" - one character whispered to me as I passed by).

I was reading an article in the paper today that detailed the royal wedding, including the flowers that were in Kate's bouquet. It included lilies of the valley. My mother always had a patch of lilies of the valley on one side of the house. They were my favorite (second only to the tulips she had growing on the other side of the house). Just reading about the bouquet brought back memories of the scent of those flowers and my mother. Later this evening we were returning to our car after a great baseball win by the Astros. My son and his friend were walking with us. My arm brushed a cascade of flowers growing on a fence and the floral scent filled the air. I turned back to look at the boys and teased - don't forget to stop and smell the flowers!

Don't miss out on the whole experience around you - make sure you take in the scents as well as the sights.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Feel Good Kind of Show

It was definitely a "feel good" kind of show. One of those TV shows that makes you feel great watching it and for days after as you tell other people about it. Tears of joy, excitement, and fun mixed with very talented singers. I found myself e-mailing all my friends about it and talking about it with a big smile on my face the next day and beyond.

I only have two shows that I don't like to miss - a game show and a late night show. Last week a preview aired right before my late night show. It started with four very popular singers who are the coaches on the show (i.e. Cee-lo Green, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera) belting out the song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley like I've never heard it sung before. It also didn't hurt that the contestant they featured was a good looking cowboy with a great voice. The show was fun and I was captivated. I raced home from teaching my cycle class last night to see the premiere. Expecting a one hour show, I was delighted that it turned out to be two. Incredibly talented singers tried out in blind auditions. Each one's story was revealed and their audition presented along with the battle between the coaches for the singers they liked. Ultimately the singer gets to pick who they work with. If none of the coaches pick the singer, it is disappointing but the coaches still have encouraging and positive responses for them. I can't wait for next week and the next show - The Voice.

I am sometimes tired when I get to yoga class, or frustrated from events of the work day. It never fails that once I start teaching and working with my students, and enjoying their hard work that I forget all my troubles and find new energy. At the end of class I thank them for letting me play with them and we all leave feeling better than when we came in the door.

It's a Feel Good Kind of Class and our Feeling Good Kind of Shows (to everyone else that we come across)!

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's the Little Things That Make a Big Difference

There was a new furniture store in town that sounded interesting - rooms of furniture ready to go. I drove by the brightly colored building many times and finally had a few minutes one day to peek my head inside and see what the fuss was all about. An interesting table with bar high cushy chairs in a chocolate black color caught my attention (when doesn't chocolate anything catch my attention?). It was unusual because of the shape of the table - a rounded triangle. The bench seat on one side reminded me of the bench we had at our kitchen table when I was a kid. It was difficult to get eight kids around a table without a bench on one side. I loved to lay down on that bench after dinner, sometimes resting, sometimes just avoiding the inevitable homework. I didn't really need a new dining room table, so I put a picture of it in my head for future reference. We've been redoing some rooms in the house, replacing a few things, and it came time to redo the dining room. I went back to the store to search for that perfect table that I came across so long ago - and was delighted to find it was still available. It is so perfect for my husband's poker nights and our frequent game nights at the house. In preparation for its delivery, we moved some furniture in the dining room. The china cabinet, weighted down with years of collecting wine glasses and wine to fill them, hadn't been moved in an embarassing number of years. We simply moved it one wall over (ok - I admit - not simply - it had to be emptied first, and strong neighbor boys had to be commisioned to come over and move it - which was easily accomplished with promises of baked goods) and the whole room opened up. It was amazing how a simple thing made such a huge difference. You can walk through the room without running into a table or chair - positive Feng Shui.

In yoga I move about the room during class, gently making adjustments to student's poses. It doesn't take much for them to feel a big difference. I give them modifications and ways to make a start with a complicated pose. I try to remember names, and try to get around the room and make eye contact, a positive comment or a light touch to everyone. It's the little things that make a big difference.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Really? Es verdad? (is that true?)

I was preparing for an international vacation and called my cell phone company to check on the call, text and e-mail rates and charges while I traveled. I provided the representative with all of my information and secret passwords for account access. When she found out the reason for my call, she said she would have to transfer me to the international department. Once connected, I again had to provide all of my numbers and secret passwords. I asked the representative why they didn't have that in the system. "Believe me, I know. It frustrates me as much as it frustrates you", he replied in a monotone, scripted, said it for the 16th time today fashion. So unbelievable, I thought. At least it wasn't as frustrating as the last time when I was transferred five times with all the information repeating, I told myself as I tried to look at it in a positive way.

The fake truth is rampant. I assisted my son on a walk-through inspection of his new house prior to closing. The salesman gave several mini speeches of half truths including the ever so irritating - "I'm looking out for these kids like they are my own children". Really? I was thinking it was more like he was looking out for his own commission on the sale of this mansion. Es verdad? (is that true?)

Then there is yoga. I never have to wonder with my students. Their sincerity shows through in every breath, every exertion, every laugh as they tumble to the floor struggling through a pose and every "I feel great, thank you" at the end of every class.

In yoga - no posers - just poses. Verdad (truly).


The grapes popped and exploded with flavor as I crushed down on the handful I had placed in my mouth. I am a voracious eater. I love food and believe handfuls of grapes, popcorn or M&M's taste so much better than eating them one at a time. There is something about the crunch and flavor explosion that cannot be dismissed. Fortunately, I am as voracious an exerciser and do not have a problem with my weight.

Recently, I bought a bag of crunchy red grapes. I pulled off a handful, popped them in my mouth and started to crunch away - then stopped. Something was wrong - something besides grapes was in there. I discovered that a small piece of stem was still attached to every grape - they hadn't severed cleanly from the vine. I wasn't going to be able to pop delightful dozens into my mouth at a time. I was going to have to grab each one off the vine separately, separate the little stem piece and eat them one by one. I did. And guess what? They were delicious that way. One crunchy grape explodes with flavor just as nicely as a mouthful.

In yoga, some students try to do all the poses all out without paying attention to how they feel with each movement, whether they are going too far or whether they can push a little bit more. They don't slow down and listen to their body and back off if something doesn't feel right. They end up frustrated, tired or stressed and strained. They need to focus on each pose and each part of each pose a little more for greater enjoyment and safe stretching.

One by one, not the whole bunch - enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's All Good

It was the most perfect of days - the weatherman gave it a ten. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the temperature was 72 and I was headed to the beach in the convertible with the most perfect of beach buddies soon to be in the car with me and the most perfectly packed cooler (chocolate, beer, strawberries and other goodies). I was momentarily delayed on our trip at a traffic light. I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed the guy behind me jammin' out on his steering wheel like a rock star drummer. Must be a good song - maybe I should go back there and ask him what it is - I thought. It would probably make a great tune for my cycling class! I smiled and headed to the rendevous spot for the beach thinking about the rough work week behind me and the relaxing day ahead. Mixing tough with fun. It's all good - I thought.

My yoga class tonight was the perfect size for personal attention - ten. We started with the basic warm-ups and moved on to class mixing beginner poses with challenging ones. Half of the class struggled with the challenging poses, losing their balance, sometimes tumbling gently to the floor laughing or making "say what?" comments when I mentioned where I wanted them to try to move their arm or their leg, but continuing to try. I told them it was all good. The fact that they were laughing and enjoying themselves through their struggles was a good sign. They weren't giving up but were enjoying the challenges and the little "ta-da" moments when part of a pose actually worked.

We all have struggles mixed with good times. It is how we approach it that makes all the difference. Stay on the positive side - it's all good.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Are What Drives Us Crazy - Are We?

I just started leading my Saturday morning yoga class in their sun salutations - a vigorous warm up before the real work begins. We were on our third round and I suddenly realized what I had said, stopped myself in mid cobra position (on my belly with chest raised) and started laughing as the class continued their string of poses, unphased by my break in the rhythm. They knew that there would be an explanation and that it would probably make them laugh too. They were used to it and enjoyed it - (that's what they tell me). It takes the edge off of the hard work they are performing.

I remained on the floor as I started my mini performance - an exaggerated description of the poses stretching out every other syllable as I spoke slowly and carefully. "Lunge deeeeeply into the pose as you breeeeeeathe slooooowly with eeeeeeach moooooovement" I said. I started to smile. "I can't believe it", I said. It has always driven me a little crazy to hear yoga instructors speak with that slow drawn out speak and I heard myself say one word - just one tiny word - during the sun salutation that gave the tiniest most micro-indication that I might be headed in the same direction of the yoga "rack" instructors - stretching out every word. Please no - not me.

At least when you are aware of something you can stop it. And I stopped it dead in its tracks right there.

But it was then that I realized that this may not be the only instance of my being what drives me crazy. I started a personal reality check.

I took a cycling class the other day and cringed every time the instructor screamed her zealous "eeeeeh" and "whoohoo" into the microphone in between the talking that never stopped and heavy breathing that reminded me I should be working as hard. It wasn't the expressions of enthusiasm that bothered me as much as her screaming it right into the mic at full volume. Then I thought about my own class and how often I express enthusiasm as I egg them on to work harder and bring themselves to that "can't talk - need CPR" zone. But I calmed myself as I realized I always push the mic to the side and I do stop talking (heck - I am just trying to breathe like they are) and all was well again in my yoga and cycling world.

They say (who are these "theys"? - and why do we listen to them?) - that those things that irritate us most about other people are actually a reflection of ourselves and our faults. Granted some of them are - but streeeeeeeeeetching out my words and screeching into the mic are not mine.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Keeping It Fresh and New

The surgeon held the beating heart in his hand and gently turned it on end so that we could see the twisting motion of the left ventricle, like a towel twists when you wring it out. I was at the Pumps and Pipes Conference, a collaboration between heart surgeons and oil and gas engineers sharing their expertise and technology to solve each others "pump and pipe" problems. We were watching a live feed from an operating room a few buildings away at the medical center. I was grateful for the man laying on the table with his chest open who volunteered to allow us to view his bypass heart surgery. When I was in college I considered the specific discipline of bio-medical engineering within mechanical engineering, but never switched. Medicine and surgery have always fascinated me and the operation was amazing.

What I remember most are the words of the surgeon as he held the man's heart in his hand - "Isn't it incredible. Isn't it beautiful". Here was a doctor who has probably seen hundreds of hearts, if not thousands and his natural reaction was amazement and appreciation. This man truly loved his work.

This morning I drove downtown with the convertible top down on an incredibly sunny, though cold, day to teach two cycling classes in a row at the downtown gym. I had the heat on under my seat and the hot air blowing full blast as I clutched the steering wheel with my driving gloves on, wondering if the surrounding drivers thought I was crazy. (Probably!). I only teach at this gym occasionally, so it was a treat to work with a different crowd. Though the process is the same - warm them up, kick their booties, cool them down - and you don't really go anywhere, class is always a new adventure. The music changes, the people change (though there are always a few new faces - even in my regular classes), and their faces change as they struggle to survive. I like to teach at different gyms occasionally, just for something new. So, it always stays fresh and exciting.

In yoga class I try to work on different poses each time I teach so the members always get a different experience. I've taught for many years and still delight and enjoy it every time. Next week I will attend a yoga conference in San Francisco to learn new techniques and methods to keep my classes interesting. I am eager to return to my students and experiment with them. This retreat to one of the most beautiful and exciting cities I know is one way I keep it fresh and renew my attitude.

What will you do to continue to make your work new and exciting every time?

It is a new year. Keep it fresh. Keep it new. Happy New Year!