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.

Say What?!

My sister sent me this picture on facebook today. I LOVE it! Are you looking to try yoga but don't know where to start? Feel uncomfortable going to a gym or are you intimidated by the thought of going to a yoga studio? Or have you even had a bad experience before?

I have been a Suzuki violin teacher for 15+ years now and love it! My students are all so different, having different likes and dislikes, learning styles, and attention spans.

How does this apply to you? Most of my yoga students have NEVER done yoga before. It is MY job as the teacher to create a space where everyone feels accepted and comfortable. And to explain and demonstrate poses that are both easy to do AND feel great!

Most of my classes are usually 2-4 students and the students are mostly 60+ (with some preteens some day for laughs and to create a family atmosphere).

We talk, we share our lives. I even had students share their gingerbread house in December!

Wondering if yoga is for you? I always say, "If you can breathe, you can do yoga." Because breathing is the most important part!

If you want to try yoga because you've heard good things but have no idea what to do stop by Centerville Academy Tuesday or Friday morning. I have mats, props, and everything you can possibly imagine to have a great experience. You might even make some new friends! And like my students always tell me, my class is "very relaxing", and "helps them get a good nights' sleep" and is "much more enjoyable than going to the gym". Yoga for the win!