Sunday, July 27, 2014


I am a rock n' roll girl from Detroit but I must admit that I have developed an affection for country music after living here in Texas for more than half my life. One of my latest favorites is a song called "Automatic" by Miranda Lambert. She reminisces about how simple things were before everything became automatic: drying clothes outside on the line, a quarter in a payphone, and recording music from the radio on a tape cassette.

I was teaching a weight lifting class for another instructor a few weeks ago. As I instructed the class members on each exercise I reminded them to think about what they were doing, how each exercise felt and what muscles were supposed to be engaged. We do things so automatically in class (and all day).  It is time for squats so we pick up the same amount of weight we always do and put it on our bar. When it comes to the bicep curls we follow along without thinking about the muscles we are working and whether we are swinging our weights or really focusing on the movement.  I wanted them to feel a good soreness in every part of their body the next day because they paid attention to what they were doing.  

The same thing is true for yoga.  They know the warm-up and the what triangle poses are and what to do and they flow into them without thinking.  If we pay more attention, breathe deeply and really focus on what we are feeling we will get a better workout and a deeper experience on many levels.  

How are you going through your day?  Are you on auto pilot or really focused and paying attention to enjoy every moment and see opportunity where you just followed along before.  
Try it for a day and let me know how it goes. Turn off the autopilot.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Move On Up - To The Front Row

I find it interesting to observe where people place themselves in a room. 

When I am teaching yoga some new people come right up to the front so that they can see and learn the right way to perform the poses.  Others that want to hang back and relax and participate at a different level may set their mat down in the back row or back corner. Occasionally they get a little surprise when I move to the side or back of the room to lead the class through a few poses and all of the sudden they are the front row now.  

In cycle class those that really want to focus and work the hardest tend to resonate to the front of the room.  In the front they can observe their form in the front mirrors and make corrections.  I sometimes wish I could automatically turn all of the bikes in cycle as easily as I can rotate my yoga class, (by having them turn on their mats), so that the back row would become the front row. It all makes for interesting dynamics.

I was presenting to a group of technical professionals on perceptions and assumptions in a business setting.  I was part of a half day long combined trainings plus meetings for a group that was only together once a quarter.   The finance group was presenting after my talk.  After I finished, I grabbed my lunch and stayed for part of their presentation before I headed out, on to my next adventure. While I was eating my lunch I observed that there were a few technical females in the room but they were seated in the last rows in the back.  The finance group that was presenting also had representation but they were also seated at the back of the room around a round table.  I noticed that several of them were texting or checking e-mails on their phone while their co-worker was presenting. 

There are a number of reasons people take a back seat at meetings. Some don't want to be called on.  Some may not think they have anything to contribute.  Others may have work that needs to be done and they don't want to disturb others in the room while they toggle back and forth between listening to the speaker and answering e-mails on their laptop or their device. But the truth is - they aren't totally "there".  We are most effective when we are totally present with whomever and whatever we are involved in.

What do you need to do to be more present and effective in your personal and professional life?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Dentist Can Tell

I love to go to the dentist. That is not something you usually hear people say.  But I really do. I love the feeling of clean teeth after my appointment and don't really want to eat anything for a while to savor the fresh clean feeling.  But I eventually get hungry and give in.  My dentist's office is like a spa: with low lights, water fountains trickling, beautiful carefully lighted artwork and spacious treatment rooms.  It actually is a spa.  Her husband is a massage therapist and treatments are available to relieve stress from coming to the dentist or life in general.

The hygienist notices everything and made a comment recently that the left side of my mouth looked like I was doing a better job of brushing it.  I told her that made sense since I was right handed.  So, now I try to brush with my left hand half the time to even things out. It feels awkward but I know it is all for the best.  We will see if it is working next time I have my check-up.

In yoga I jokingly tell the class they need to even out their bodies or when they get older they will walk funny and I demonstrate. I also tell them if they leave class early and don't do the same poses on the other leg they will walk funny for the rest of the night. It always solicits a laugh and they stay.

This can be carried over into many areas of our lives. We tend to do the same things and stay with the same routines and get caught in ruts not realizing how "uneven" we are making our lives.  Try to do things a little differently - not only to stay balanced and even but to stay interested and excited about your day and your life.

Your yoga instructor can tell too. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Take a Step

I attend a yoga conference in one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world every January. This year was no different. I was able to spend a week in San Francisco - the city by the bay.  The weather was so beautiful, unusually warm for January (i.e. it was 70 degrees some days), and though I've been there so many times before there were always things and places to discover that were new for me. 

The weekend conference is split up into six sessions.  For one of my sessions I selected an acro yoga workshop.  Acro as in acrobatic - where one person is on the bottom as the base and the second person is on top as the flyer - with the feet or the hands of the base supporting the flyer at the hips, hands, back or feet.  We started the workshop walking around the room weaving in and out of other people.  Eventually we were asked to select a partner and stand face to face with our arms up and hands pressed together.  We closed our eyes and were told to have one partner push into the other person's hands.  The reactions were very interesting.

Some people pushed back with as much force as the pusher, trying not to get knocked over. Others simply took a step back or to the side when the force became too much.

So what do you do when the "pressure" gets to be too much?  Do you fight back with all your might?  Do you stop and realize that sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back, to the side or out of the way in some way?  Sometimes the best reaction is not a reaction at all - but merely a reflection.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kicking the Bucket List

I taught an indoor cycle class for another instructor earlier in the week.  I always check in with everyone in the room and ask new people to identify themselves so I can give them tips and check them out on the bike.  One young lady told me she was new. I felt her uneasiness and asked if she was a little nervous. She admitted she was but also very excited about being there. Taking this cycle class had always been on her bucket list and she was finally here to check it off the list.

Wow. I had to pause for a few seconds and think about that one. Bucket list: a list of things one hasn't done that they want to do before they "kick the bucket"!  Typically people have things like climb the Great Pyramids or walk the Great Wall of China.  I hadn't come across anyone with cycle class on their list.  Then I thought - how cool - I get to be a part of this very special moment in this person's life.  She commented how serious everyone in the class always looked and how they would come out of class soaked with sweat from head to toe.  It was a fear she wanted to conquer.  

So, I encouraged her, gave her some tips and started the music and the ride. Part way into class I thought she might like to have this recorded so I asked if she would like me to take her picture with her phone so she could savor the memory. She was delighted and smiled for the camera through her grimace.  

At the end of class she was practically jumping up and down with delight that she had survived and I was so thrilled to have been a part of a bucket list kicking. 

The same thing happens in yoga class.  People see poses and either dismiss it as something they will never be able to do or consider it as a possibility some day and put it on their "list".

What's on your list?  Do you even have a list?  What is stopping you from doing the things you know would have you jumping up and down - silently inside or physically outside?

Take the first step - the year and the week are young and the moment is now.