Thursday, May 24, 2018

FREE Yoga Saturday May 26,

Reusing the original yoga announcement from last week is part of the 3 Rs right?? If you weren't able to come last week, you get another chance! A friendly tip for finding it, look for and head up Old Haul Road, it's around 2100 North off of Main Street.

Join me for YOGA
Be There or be... UNSTRETCHED!

Saturday, June 2, 8-9am
Saturday, May 26, 9-10am

Freedom Hills Park
2150 North 150 East Centerville, UT

Beginners are welcome! Bring your mat, appropriate clothing, and a good attitude! If you don't have a mat I'll have extras. Yoga will help with your attitude....☺️

Monday, May 14, 2018

Get in the Arena

Almost a year ago I took a huge leap of faith, a change of life direction, and took 200hours yoga teacher training at Salt Lake Power Yoga. I trained in the Baptiste Power Yoga style with Jessa Munion of Rocksteady Bodyworks as one of my main guides.  Why is this important? First, I've never considered doing anything but music (I'm a professional violinist) and teaching yoga is very different. Second, the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga method which has three main elements; asana (or physical poses), meditation, and inquiry, the practice of self-transformation. These 3 elements encourage students to step into their full potential by discovering their passions, creativity, and developing the confidence to step into new and big possibilities in their lives.

Inquiry and self-transformation have been a persistent focus in my time spent practicing with SLPY teachers and the Baptiste style. Phrases like...

Be comfortable being uncomfortable...
If not now, when? If not you, who?
What others think of you is none of your business.
Don't give up what you want most for what you want now!
The only way out is through...
Speak and BE HEARD!

I found yoga in 2013 incredibly broken, trying to turn my life around, searching for answers, for meaning, for something to hold on to. I had no idea who I was, what was important to me, or what I wanted. I am incredibly lucky to have found inspiring and encouraging teachers who believed in me. Each time I went to yoga I could dig deep, find strength within myself, try new things, and grow. And after spending the last 5 years on this journey I feel inspired to guide others. To pass it on. Not because I am so incredible or have all the answers, but because I believe in yoga. I believe in the power that comes from linking mind and body and the way it heals the soul. I am so grateful for all I’ve been given and want everyone to have the tools they need to find their inner strength and worth. I have firsthand experience of how yoga heals trauma. I have felt it ground me from dissociation, calm an anxiety attack, and bring me back to the present moment when nothing else can. I have obtained the gift of pause and the ability to become a little less reactive. And when I use these tools on my yoga mat it is easier to bring them off my mat.

What are you passionate about?

How can you use your yoga practice to find clarity, find answers, find YOURSELF.
You are beautiful and strong and perfect just as you are.

In my yoga classes we laugh a lot. It's important not to take life too seriously. Don't let your fear of failure or doing the wrong thing prevent you from getting in the arena.

What are you waiting for?

The Man in the Arena

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Two Wolves

The Parable: The Tale of Two Wolves

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. 
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed

I've had a travel bug lately, especially for the beautiful red rock of southern Utah. I usually go down every year to St. George and didn't get a chance last fall. So I made time and went down with Jada last weekend. I was so excited! This was going to be solitude, quiet, peace, beauty, a wonderful time to meditate and reflect and recharge.

Well... things did not go as planned. I drove down Friday night and arrived at "the Wedge" past dark. The good news was I had cell phone service and used it to navigate my way. The bad news, tons of people and it was so dark down there it was hard to find a place to settle down for the night. My biggest fear on planning the trip was I'd be in the middle of nowhere but reality was actually quite opposite. When I found somewhere to camp and set up my tent I was "serenaded" by guitar and singing and lots of other human noises....

When I woke up I found this....
And walked around the Wedge rim. It was gorgeous! Every spot could've been a photo.

In hindsight I wish I would've stayed longer but I had places to go and things to see.
Next on the list... Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel

Looking back, I wish I would've stayed longer. But it was getting hot and I needed to find the Calf, Cow and Pine Canyons trailhead.  Looking for them, I drove all way to the San Rafael bridge and realized I was too far south so I turned around and drove north... back to Buckhorn Wash, realized I missed it again and gave up. First time but not the last on this trip I realized I really need better navigational skills. I rely on my cell phone too much and I had no service. So I decided to leave the north end of San Rafael and drive to the south.

I reached the south end of San Rafael in the midst of the afternoon, astonishingly tired (my usual mid-day total exhaustion slump), worried about gas (oh yes, as I was driving on I70 I passed a beautiful sign that said no services aka gas stations next 100 miles. What?!), and just wanting to find somewhere to set up camp so I could rest in the tent until evening. This was going to be my rest/solitude/reflection... HAHAHA!

The campground at Goblin Valley S.P. was full but that was ok because I was going to set up tent in a much more secluded, quiet spot by Temple Mountain. Actually, what happened was (yet again without any cell service to help me navigate and being super tired):  I found an area that looked like a picture I saw of Temple Mountain and it was just a bunch of dirt was fire pits everywhere. I had no idea where to set up my tent and also was trying to magically go to the future and find out where I would be farthest from people especially the noisy ones. Finally I gave up trying to do the impossible and settled in a spot that looked level and set up camp. One issue was the wind. It was so windy the tent literally was blowing off the ground. I had to run and catch it and bring it back. I tried to pound in the stakes but the ground was so hard my stake turned into looking like the upside down letter "L". So I took my 5gallon water jug (I was NOT going to end up on Netflix's "I Shouldn't Be Alive") and used that to hold my tent in place. Once I had my sleeping bag down I laid down for a quick power nap but the only place hotter than 85 and in the sun was in the tent and I instantly started sweating. Jada did NOT like it at all! So I gave up, set up my camp chair and tried to read... and was serenaded by music coming from my neighbor's motorhome, first Glen Campbell which I could at least laugh about because I played with him while I was in the South Dakota Symphony, but then morphing in to some kind of electronic alien genre. And kept debating whether I should just pack up and go home or stay...

That evening after dinner I wanted to drive to the Crack Canyon Trailhead to see if I could find it. That was a disaster! Even with a map I kept confusing roads and "camp spot turnouts" and kept turning around and got carsick. I finally did find it but after getting lost again on the way back to camp and getting even more carsick from the bumpy ride I decided to forget that and go to Goblin Valley in the morning. I was hoping my neighbors would be done with their music considering the sun had gone down when I got back to camp. And yes, their music was off, so instead I got to listen to the kids screaming and laughing in the other campsites (hey, at least they were having a good time, right?) as I fell asleep and woke up in the morning to the sound of more laughter and dogs barking which turned in to dogs 7:20am Sunday morning. Oh well. I was packing up and headed to Goblin Valley. Couldn't do anything about it anyway.

Goblin Valley. I had read online before losing service there was a town with gas stations 12 miles from the state park... but the ranger said the closest station was an hour away. Oh well. If I was really pushing it (and I had no idea what gas mileage I would get on dirt roads) I had 100 miles left in the tank. I drove to the overlook, the state brochure says there's 3 trails but the ranger said there weren't really any trails and to just walk around. 'It was worth the look'.

And yes, THIS was really worth it! I arrived 8am Sunday morning and Jada and I were the only ones there. I decided to have a good attitude, let go of the past and enjoy the present - beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather, lots of fun climbing over rocks and running and exploring. THIS WAS IT!

Tons of fun for almost 2 hours until Jada was too hot and only wanted to lay in the shade. So we walked back to the car and drove on. Intending to drive through Capitol Reef on the way home which was beautiful (except for the car in front of us who kept literally stopping on the 50mph interstate to look at a deer, and then a turkey, and then for cars at the parking lot. Learning lots of patience!) 

And then freedom after they turned off the interstate to go to the visitor center. And an unexpected surprise....

I love the Great Western Trail so much and enjoy hiking it at the top of Millcreek Canyon (from Big Water) and also in Park City (from the Canyons). And it was an excellent end to the trip.

What does this have to do with two wolves...? You tell me.

The Parable: The Tale of Two Wolves

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. 
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed
There will always be opportunities to feed the wolves. Which one do you want to feed?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Gym

Time to hit the gym... I don't remember the last time I had a gym membership. Wait, yes.... it was in 2002! I really don't like working out inside and since Jada became my partner in crime/constant side-kick 8 years ago I didn't have any reason to. FYI, I also practice yoga outside as much as possible when the weather is nice.

This morning I woke up at 7am and drove 5 minutes to MY gym. It's free.

 It's impossible to be in a bad mood or worry when surrounded by this much beauty.

The view from pretty valley (up Davis Creek) isn't bad either.

Don't have a picture but my gym mates are the birds, squirrels, and deer.
And life is good.

Kids and Yoga...


GreenTree Yoga

The past few months I have been enjoying teaching yoga to kids at Rose Park Elementary. This is a volunteer program through GreenTreeYoga where the school teachers are given several 5 minute "yoga breaks" to play for the kids. My job as the yoga volunteer is to come to their classroom once a week to strengthen the program, help the teachers if they have questions, and lead yoga for the day! RosePark is an inner-city, very diverse school in northwest Salt Lake. I was amazed at how happy the kids were and how eager they were to do yoga.

The most fascinating thing for me was to watch the kids settle and become calm in only 5 minutes of yoga. See the pictures below to see what the kids think of yoga. Quite often I hear people say "I don't have time to do yoga (or meditate)". I wonder what would happen if they BELIEVED only 5 minutes can make a difference...

In fact, one of my favorite online instructors right now is Brea at Heart and Bones Yoga She has really made yoga more accessible and frequent for me. I subscribe to her videos (only $17/month) and just wander across the hall into my home office and can do yoga EVERY morning! It is so easy and fun. Brea has some videos for "5 minute movement breaks" that I love. My very favorite are her shoulder series. (As a professional violinist my shoulders/neck get REALLY tight). And I also love to do her 25-minute morning wake-up videos and have incorporated a lot of these moves into my classes.

Credits: GreenTree Yoga and Yael Calhoun
              HeartandBones Yoga and Brea Johnson

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Spring is Here...Maybe

Spring is here. The weather is quite beautiful and I've been out reading on my porch swing.

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

What does any of this have to do with yoga? 
  • Yoga has taught me that judging things, labeling them essentially good or bad, is pointless. The beauty is in noticing and letting them be. Who am I to judge my balance as better or worse? My limited hip mobility that day as good or bad? 
  • The townspeople are so quick to judge but they can't because they don't know the whole story. When we get attached to our judgments and preconceived notions more emotions are present. When I am able to stay in the present during my yoga practice, I feel more peace and can tune in and listen better to my body.
  • The farmer is able to be peaceful and content with all circumstances knowing that things are always changing and nothing is set in stone. One of the most reliable things in life is CHANGE.
  • It also reminds me of the spring weather in Utah. 70s one day, snow the next. 
  • It is also a lesson in accepting things you can no longer control. Even if I think I should be able to do full king pigeon pose I have to accept my hips don't bend that way no matter how much I may want it.(sidenote: I HATE pigeon pose, or should I say it really doesn't work for my body and has caused my right knee a lot of pain, and love to find other ways to mobilize my hips). Oh dear, I can't even write a blog post without judging. Doh! Did it again!
  • To stay in the moment, because that is what's real. The past already happened and can't be changed. Trying to only leads to depression. The future isn't real and obsessing on it leads to anxiety. 
  • Looking at the Yamas and Niyamas of yoga, I think Santosha/contement and Brahmachayra/ energy moderation fit nicely. More on these later... But for now, a song ...🎵🎶

Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Just For Fun... Duel Canyon

I have a few "favorite" hikes that I've done a million (or at least dozens of) times since I moved to Farmington three years ago. Actually, let me say I had NO IDEA the hiking would be so great (highly accessible, tons of trails, not many people) since I moved up here. It has been a wonderful bonus, helps me keep my sanity, and is a beautiful place for me to escape. My favorite hikes are... Davis Creek to Pretty Valley, the Grotto, Flag Rock, hiking up in Farmington Canyon in the summer when the road is open.

I wanted to explore more and recently discovered Bair Canyon on a random BST (bonneville shoreline trail) run near my house. I've been up it a few times, with the help of spikes in the winter.

Today I wanted to venture south so I checked out Duel Canyon in Centerville. It is a beautiful hike! Not too steep, you can hike 1.2 miles up to a rope swing or continue going farther (we went to mile marker 2, provided by an eagle scout, thanks!). There are 8 river crossings with great bridges although Jada did decide to just cross IN the river a few times.

Time...never enough, or is there?

How often do you think "I wish I had time for that..." "there's never enough time to get it all done". Well it is true that time is a limited resource. No amount of wishing or multitasking can give us more than 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 365 days in a year. Not too long ago my life was extremely hectic. I was working 50-60 hours a week, exercising/yoga-ing almost daily, keeping up with housework, family, trying to get enough rest, etc.... It was C-R-A-Z-Y.

Flip forward a few years to today. My current life. I am still busy a lot of the time. But I found a way to get rid of feeling CRAZY. By prioritizing how I spend time, and how I look at things. First, I have majorly scaled back on work. I am fortunate to be in a place where I can choose wisely and say no when necessary. I also change how I look at things. 

Last Sunday I was thinking about the upcoming week and freaking out/stressed/anxious about all the things I had to get done. I had most of the week scheduled with little downtime to sit around the house and stretch/read/relax. FYI, I am majorly an introvert. This doesn't mean I don't love people. It means I feel very deeply and think a lot and I need downtime/alone/quiet to recharge. When I realized (a HUGE accomplishment for me made possible by meditation and mindfulness) 
I was getting worked up I took a breath ( see previous Power of Breath post )
and thought about how my time was being used. 

  • First of all, I was on a hike. A hike I was rushing through to check it off my to-do list. When I became aware of my state of mind I immediately laughed and switched to being so grateful for being blessed with a body that can move and climb and run. Fun!
  • I would spend the whole next day in the recording studio playing a musical. Yes I would be gone all day but this isn't stressful; this is fun! 
  • Teaching my yoga classes. Fun!
  • I would be teaching all my students. Also, not stressful; this is fun and rewarding! I would be preparing my students for a graduation and competition that weekend. Fun!
  • I also was rehearsing and performing with the Utah Symphony. Fun!  
I should mention I don't think all things in life need to be fun! Being completely honest, I think that was just the first word that came to mind. I love working hard, getting frustrated because I can't figure something out (like this blog!), and the sense of accomplishment that comes when I finally figure out how to get the calendar on the front page of my blog to link to my google yoga teaching calendar. Yay! I think I was just using this word fun to distinguish from things that are a chore, something unpleasant, or something terrible.

It's amazing what taking a breath/pause, considering my thoughts, and changing them did. I didn't change anything in my schedule and yet it felt completely different. I was excited about the week and all the fun things I would be doing. I was grateful for the upcoming opportunities. 

Here's my recipe if you'd like to try it.

1. Stop.
2. Breathe.
3. Become aware of your thoughts.
4. Decide if your thoughts are what you'd like them to be or if you'd like to choose to look at the situation a different way.
5. Reframe your thoughts.
5. See how you feel.

Frary Peak Trail on Antelope Island
You can tell I was on a hurry because the only photos are on the top peak

P.S. This doesn't always work to make everything hunky dory. Sometimes I notice myself feeling extremely angry by actions of others. I have learned that anger is a signal that my boundaries have been violated. Once I realize this, I can feel good that I have boundaries. And release the other person from the status of "intentionally horrible person" to someone who probably had no idea what they were doing. Or doesn't know another way. And release them and wish them well. FYI, this is a lot easier to do for people who we only come across once (i.e. inconsiderate drivers) instead of people close to us. However, the practice of metta meditation is a good skill and practice to develop. Because it is only ourselves we are hurting by refusing to forgive and release the other person. More on this topic later...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Just For Fun... Bair Canyon

I really love hiking! I try to go at least once a week. It is a mindful activity, I feel at peace when I'm in nature, I love to examine my mind and my thoughts, I enjoy the physical exertion and sense of accomplishment, and it a fun activity to do with my dog, Jada!

I almost always wear the same thing, red vest, purple hat, no need for sunglasses

My hiking companion

Thoughts about... thoughts.??

Thoughts about thoughts.

I often say in my yoga classes that the brain is a muscle and it's job is to think. A lot of people think they are failing meditation because they can't get their brain to be quiet and stop thinking. I'm am definitely NOT a meditation expert but the way I understand it, the point of meditation is to NOTICE your thoughts. Therefore, instead of thinking you are failing meditation for thinking a lot, you are actually doing a GREAT job by noticing you are thinking.

A lot of time is spent in a daydream, in a daze, on autopilot.
A lot of our thoughts have been with us for years, decades, i.e. "I know it just IS that way!"

What if you could STOP... for even a second
a skill I've gained from meditation and mindfulness that has dramatically changed my life. Let me tell you! It's helped tremendously now that instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind I can STOP, and consider if that's really something that should come out of my mouth. I know I can't control other people's reactions, but I can control whether I say something kind and helpful or the first thing that comes to mind.

Another concept from meditation is that... I am not my thoughts. My thoughts are not me. I am more than this. And if I am not my thoughts I can choose which thoughts to accept and which ones to not accept.


Option One: I can't believe she just said that. What a jerk! She is always so rude!
Option Two: Say what?! She must not be doing well if she said that. I wonder how I can help? I'm sure I unknowingly do that too sometimes.

Option One: I can't believe that person is driving like that. How incosiderate!
Option Two: I wonder if that person is stressed, driving to the hospital? What is going on?

Option One: I can't believe how inflexible I am. I am definitely not doing yoga right!
Option Two: The teacher told me to breathe and just notice. I notice I am feeling uncomfortable and also very brave for trying something new!

Option One: I can't believe how tight my hamstrings are! What happened?!
Option Two: Whoa my hamstrings are tight! I know this happens sometimes especially after a long hike and if I just gently stretch I'll gradually get my full mobility back. The most important thing is that I breathe and notice what's going on anyways, not how far I can stretch.

How does each option make you feel? Different, right? And yet they are both a response to the exact same thing. 

I'll see it when I believe it
I'll believe it when I see it

This is one of my favorite yoga shirts (from spiritual ganster) and I wore it the whole day!

CHALLENGE: See if you can catch yourself thinking today. Consider another option to the same situation and see if the new thought changes how you feel.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Breathe... Just Breathe

The thing I love most about yoga is how it's helped me mentally. The calm, clarity, and "ok"ness I feel after practicing yoga is something I had never felt before. It is amazing!

This is why I say "Breathing is the most important part of yoga". 
"Can you breathe? Then you can do yoga."

What does the breath do...?

My husband and I are professional musicians and we perform or record almost daily. We always have to be on "top of our game". Stage fright is something we frequently deal with but tools I've learned in yoga aka Breathing has helped significantly. Especially when we perform somewhere like 
Carnegie Hall. 

Sometimes it's hard to get enough air, like at Machu Picchu at 11,152 feet above sea level...
Or when feeling anxious, worried, restless.

As Americans, most of the time we walk around with our sympathetic nervous system activated. When we link movement to breathe, aka yoga, it switches our brain over to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is associated with:
  • slowing the body down for repair, digestion, and rest
  • turning off the stress response
  • bringing heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing back to normal
  • strengthen your immune system
  • elevating mood
  • Brings that lovely, totally relaxed, nothing is wrong feeling

Next time you are feeling totally overwhelmed, way too busy, can't sleep or sit still or relax, try yoga. As long as you breathe it's guaranteed to give amazing results!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Just For Fun... Antelope Island

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
I wonder how much 5 pictures are worth...

This place is so beautiful. I discovered Antelope Island about 5 years ago and it is a wonderful place to explore, find quiet and solitude AND listen to birds, and sneak past buffalo. 2 (days of) Hikes: Elephant Rock/WhiteRock and South Island Trail.

Also, if you are wondering what this has to do with yoga. I could say there are 8 limbs of yoga and only one is movement (asana). What I will say is this is just me sharing my life, seeking adventure and beauty, and keeping it real.