Friday, August 25, 2017

What Lens Are You Looking Through to View the World?

When I first heard about the solar eclipse that would come across the United States a year or two ago - I knew I had to be in the path of totality to experience it. Within a year prior to the event, hotels and campsites all along the path were sold out. A fellow yogi was taking a group on a yoga retreat to experience the eclipse and I considered that opportunity too - but I never did act. A few weeks before eclipse day, my husband and I decided we would wait until it was closer to the actual day and see what the weather would be like in various parts of the country before making a plan to travel. It would be a shame to plan a trip like this and have your view obstructed by rain clouds. We planned to fly out early the morning of the eclipse and head back late that night, so we could bypass the lack of sleeping arrangements in the path cities. So we waited. 

As the day approached my husband ended up with a business trip out of town to take care of a problem at a power plant and wouldn't be able to go with me. I decided to go on my own. I checked out flights to Durham, North Carolina where I have family. I could fly and stay there at night, then drive to Columbia, SC, (A city on the path), with my nieces to experience the celestial phenomena and come back that same night. But - the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate so I nixed that plan too. My eclipse adventure was going to be in Houston with a 70% eclipse. 

I ended up planning a yoga on the beach during the eclipse and snagging a few dozen NASA approved eclipse viewing glasses on-line for the attendees. Those that could took the day off from work and escaped with me to Sunny Beach in Galveston. We hung out, did a little yoga, took a break to swim and hang and view the eclipse and then did a little more yoga. 

For one beautiful afternoon the country came together to enjoy a celestial eclipse experience. 

We actually kept our eclipse glasses on during part of the yoga practice. It was entertaining to try to do poses when you couldn't see anything - but glorious to turn your head or lean back to look up at the sky in a pose and see the moon covering a majority of the sun - a phenomenal experience. 

Throughout the afternoon I considered the different views I had of the sky. In spite of the eclipse, the day remained quite sunny the whole time. If you hadn't heard about the eclipse, just by looking at the sky you wouldn't have had a clue it was happening here because the sun was blinding and bright. Without the glasses you couldn't see the moon passing by the sun. With the glasses on, the eclipse was amazingly clear. 

So - my question is - how are you viewing the world? Are you blinding yourself with limiting assumptions or using tools to help you see more clearly the options, opportunities and beauty before you?

We are one under the sun. What will you do to keep that feeling alive!

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It was a joyful day for all who came out to enjoy my beach solar eclipse yoga! (Some missed picture time - they had to go back to work!) Keep April 8, 2024 on your calendar - when we will experience a total eclipse of the sun here in Texas. We will be heading to the hill country for a relaxing retreat/eclipse viewing event. It will be here before you know it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Save My Spot!!

The back row of my indoor cycle class is a favorite for some of my members.  They save each other spots and each of them likes a particular bike position. If someone from outside their group comes earlier than they do and gets their "spot", they seem a little out of sorts.

I also have people in yoga class that prefer a certain area - away from the fans, close to the mirror so they can watch their form, or close to a wall so they can hold on when they don't have their balance that day. They are more comfortable if they can get their "spot".

My thought is - have you ever thought about exploring a "new spot"?

How many times do we get caught in a rut, doing the same thing the same way, sitting in the same spot day after day - never changing or meeting new people or observing our practice from a new angle? What would sitting by new people do for us? Are we missing out on meeting a new friend? What would not having the wall do - would we try harder to balance?

If you notice that you are always picking the same spot - consider picking a new place on purpose - as simple as a different path for your daily walk. Observe and enjoy how it opens up your perspective and your life!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dream Big - Work Hard

So many times in yoga class we are inspired by a member that can execute a difficult pose extremely well and the onlookers respond with "ooohs" and "ahs" and applause. They think that that person just executed that pose without effort. It does tend to seem that way. But what they forget to consider is that to get to that place, there was a lot of hard work focused on getting that pose. It seems out of their reach and they shake their head thinking "that will never me". But the truth is the pose is possible for them. It is just going to take some practice and patience and determination. I know one woman in my class who has mastered all variations of handstands and arm balances. But two years ago she couldn't do them. She practiced every day and delights in playing upside down just for fun. The dream became a reality for her. She is someone that I frequently have demonstrate poses for the class that I am not capable of doing yet. Notice I said yet!

I attended the Annual Women's Conference put on by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce last week. One of the speakers, Connie, is the mother of a Houston Texans favorite player - JJ Watt. She shared her story on raising three boys and her work with her son JJ's foundation. The theme of the foundation is DBWH - Dream Big Work Hard. It encourages kids, and all of us, to have big dreams and do what it takes to make it happen.

If you want something, as simple as being able to do a certain yoga pose or as big as making a positive impact on the world - dream big and work hard. You will surely get there. I can't wait to see what you do!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

In the Blink of an Eye

I like to walk in the park near our high school and often find this time very peaceful and meditative. As I walked today I thought about the people that come to my cycle and yoga classes. They aren't always just there to exercise. Many times they are there to release, escape or just destress from things that are happening in their lives. I remember one early morning after subbing a cycle class - a young woman told me her dog had passed away and she was really having a tough time and had hardly been able to get out of bed the day before. She said she was glad I had posted I was teaching that morning. She made it out of bed to come to class and it really helped her.
SO as I walked today I reflected on being there for others and being more present in my every day activities. I listened and watched the birds and squirrels, noticed the trees and grass and people, including the birthday party for a young boy about to start, and the pavement beneath my feet - and just enjoyed and paid attention to everything.
After, as I sat in my car waiting to turn left at the always very long light at the exit from the park on FM 2351 - I noticed the car to my right on 2351 with his blinker on waiting to make a u-turn. I rolled down my window to feel the wonderful cool air that came in as a result of the overnight rain. The light turned green but I didn't move. Because I had the window down I heard the roar of a fast approaching car. I normally would look to my left anyway before I turned just to make sure traffic stopped - but my head swung quickly left in response to the sound of the speeding car. It was obvious she wasn't going to stop - or even slow down. I looked up to confirm she had a red light (that is hadn't malfunctioned somehow) - yes - bloody bright red! I waited as she sped by me - hauling ass - "cluelass" (cluelessly hauling ass - my new coined term) - and honked my horn at the oblivious driver. I calmly shook my head in disbelief and made my turn after she passed (guessing she was moving at 45-50+mph). As I passed the Southbelt Air Conditioning and Heating shop on my right, I read their sign out front - "In God We Trust". Oh yes - I do!
Feeling lucky - I stopped at the Shell station on the corner to buy some lottery tickets.
So why did I share this? I firmly believe that focusing on your surroundings and being more present in every moment can really positively change your life - personally and professionally. The Houston Chronicle has an article in the paper today on Hip Hop and meditation and the story of a former Houston DJ that left the radio world and opened a meditation shop. I'm thinking of getting a certification in it - and bringing it to the corporate world.
Meditation doesn't have to be sitting in a chair quiet for 20 minutes. It can be a walk in the park. It can be sitting in your backyard in a hammock with a beer - just hanging. I'm thinking of starting meditative walks in the park - would that interest you?
I encourage your to give meditation a try. It just might save your life - it saved mine today!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Positively Open to Possibilities

On this International Women's Day I would like to share a short story note about a woman in my yoga class that is a model for all of us.  This woman is fairly new to yoga and seated herself in the front row of my yoga class last night. I'm not that great at guessing ages but assume she was probably a few years older than me. Before I started class she told me she was determined to be positive and was going to try everything I offered in class - even if it was hard and it scared her. To my delight - she did.

I watched her try to put her head under her leg in a lunge even though it wouldn't really go yet and said to myself - "she is really going to do what she said!" A little later I assisted her as she planted her arms into a tripod and attempted a headstand. Her feet never left the ground. With every pose she gave it her all - but a cautious all. She would try everything and step it back a notch when something felt like too much or didn't feel ok to her. But she remained positive and open.

At the end of class she was so proud of herself and I was too. There's nothing like a little risk taking to up your self esteem. She was/is the best model for being open to the possibilities I've ever come across in my yoga classes!! We can all take a lesson from her.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

You Have a Choice

A new member joined my yoga class yesterday morning. As I observed her move up and down from the floor before class started, I thought she might have a little trouble keeping up with the first part of the class where we flow through a series of sun salutations. I went up to her and gave her a few tips, along a strap for stretches and a set of blocks to bring the floor closer in poses where we bend over. I let her know that she could skip any poses she didn't feel comfortable with and she could stay longer in any poses she enjoyed - ignoring any directions I gave when she wanted to. I wanted to let her know it was her class and she had a choice on what and how fast and which poses to play with. She was very appreciative.

Sometimes people come to classes and think there is only one way. They somehow believe they have to do everything they are instructed to do in exactly the way it is presented and don't have choices on modifying or deciding not to do parts of it. I remind members that it is like an all you can eat buffet - and they don't have to eat everything!

Remember when approaching any situation that you always have a choice. There is always more than one way to proceed. Don't get locked into the one way or the only way. Play with alternatives, modify what you need to make things work for you.

It's not the only job in the world, they're not the only potential partner for you, things won't always be like this, there is more than one response or outcome to the event, you have control over your responses,...

Life is full of choices - stay open to possibilities and enjoy your freedom to choose.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Better to See You My Dear!

I was leaving the gym with a few members from my yoga class this morning and noticed as we passed the front desk that there was a new employee greeting members. I already had my sunglasses on, as it was bright outside and I wouldn't be able to put them on while walking with all of the yoga toys in my arms. I tipped my sunglasses up so I could see the woman, set down some of my yoga bags and reached out my hand to greet her. I gave my name and told her the classes I taught, then she shared her name with a great big smile and we headed out the door.

"I like that", said one of the women from class walking with me. "Liked what?" I asked. She replied that she liked how I tilted my sunglasses so the woman could see my eyes. I hadn't even realized I had done it. It just seemed natural so that I could see her eyes and she could see mine when I greeted her. I felt good I had unconsciously done something nice and someone noticed.

But it did even more for me. I will now pay even more attention every time I meet someone - to make sure I am connecting with their eyes and their heart. I will not walk by the front desk if there is a new person there I haven't met without introducing myself - though I usually already do. I will not miss out on the opportunity to get the valet's name or check the server's name tag even though I already usually do.

I am grateful that this woman shared what she noticed about me - so that I could be even more conscious going forward.

It also had me reflecting on the yoga class I just taught. I frequently walk about the room adjusting people so that they can enjoy a pose more. I also try to acknowledge people when they are doing things right. But the woman noticing my sunglass flip has me wanting more. I want to do more acknowledging the good in people so that they are inspired - as I was today - to do more.

You never know how a simple little comment will positively affect someone - much more than you ever imagined.

I encourage you to increase your awareness of people and surroundings - and share your positive thoughts. The energy lift on that person and subsequently the world will be very impactful!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Through the School Zone

Have you ever been driving in a school zone and had to stop at a traffic light halfway through? It is not surprising to see when the light turns green that many of the drivers will take off and ramp up quickly to the posted speed limit while only a few people will remember they are still in a school zone and keep driving slowly. They were in the "school zone" but when they were stopped by the light they went into another thinking "zone" and left the school zone far behind in their minds.

The breathing exercises typically conducted at the beginning of a yoga class assist us in developing our focus, concentration and awareness. We focus on our breath and work to slow and deepen it. We focus on the sound of it and sometimes count silently in our head to aid in concentration.

Take the opportunity to develop your awareness the next time you are stopped at a traffic light.  Are you in a school zone? What buildings are around you? Are there pedestrians or bikes near the intersection? What kinds of cars are at the light also?

Taking short moments to focus on our surroundings develops a keen sense of awareness for all situations.