July 27, 2011 · 1:55 am
While I was completing my yoga training, I was lucky enough to gain support from friends who were willing to let me use them as guinea pigs to practice teaching. Summer quickly moved in and we moved our classes to the Socrates Sculpture Park just down the street from my apartment in Astoria, which, if you haven’t been there, is a must-see (my class is a perfect excuse to visit!). Not only have we been lucky enough to find a beautiful grassy spot to practice every week, but we’ve had some memorable moments that have made me feel especially grateful for my friends, my yoga practice, and this gorgeous city we live in.
Two such experiences happened within the last month. One day, the skies opened up as soon as we arrived; my resourceful friends quickly turned their mats into full-body rain shields. We couldn’t decide whether to wait or run for cover, so instead we just laughed–for me, big, glorious belly laughs–with mats on our heads, withstanding the whipping wind and rain. In the end, we were rewarded with a full double rainbow, and once we finished properly freaking out over it, we were able to practice.
Then tonight, the Metropolitan Opera happened to be performing at the same time as our scheduled class. I’m not one to create playlists for my classes (or perhaps I should say, “Until today, I haven’t created playlists, but maybe in the future..”:)), but I would also never turn one down that was already created–especially by the Met! It was another incredible moment of presence and awareness for me, and hopefully that came through in my teaching. We were able to rest in Savasana with the sounds of “Old Man River” in the background, and just managed to avoid another downpour (though I was waiting for dementors to begin descending from the sky as we walked home, it was so dark).
Yoga teaches us mindfulness, of our bodies, our minds and our environments. This kind of awareness helps us find joy in every moment, no matter how big or small. While we’ve had some incredibly and overtly beautiful experiences during our classes at the Sculpture Park, and I continue to experience appreciation and joy for the subtle as well: the orangey glow of the sun falling behind the clouds, a child walking by with a mound of soft-serve on a cone (with the sounds of Mr. Softee in the background–sounds of the city being our other built-in class soundtrack), and the stillness that comes over our patch of grass during Savasana are just a few. I am incredibly grateful for this space and my amazing yogi friends. I’d love for you to join us sometime.
Filed under Meditation, Yoga
July 20, 2011 · 9:31 pm
Today, Michelle Obama announced that retailers such as Walmart and Walgreens are pledging to expand their stores to stock affordable nutritious food in communities that would otherwise rely on the fast food industry and other unhealthy options to feed their families. While I know there are those out there who shun these mega chains because they take away from mom and pop small businesses, I think this is a really important step for the future of the US. The obesity rate in this country is utterly and unacceptably out of control, and it’s about time that things started to change.
Last week I read an article which listed Colorado as the ONLY state in the ENTIRE country with an obesity rate less than 20% (and it was only just under at about 19.4%). This is incredibly alarming. According to this article, scientists are already predicting that this generation of children may be the first to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali discusses five Yamas, or restraints, which are part of a moral code for right living. The first is called Ahimsa, or non-violence. To follow ahimsa is to do no harm to any living being–including ourselves and our loved ones. Consistently eating and providing foods that do not provide nourishment goes against Ahimsa**.
Yes, we need a better healthcare system. Yes, we need a military. And of course, we need to provide more support for our education system! But none of these things are going to matter if people are dying of obesity because they couldn’t afford better food options and don’t understand proper nutrition. I applaud Michelle Obama for leading the fight against this epidemic.
With that said, each of us can time to make sure that we are treating ourselves with ahimsa, because this is the beginning of a greater change. My sister and I joined our local CSA (community supported agriculture) this year, and it has been awesome–bags of fresh veggies every week! (Anyone who reads this is invited over for dinner anytime :)) What can you do?
**This is not to say that sometimes, Ahimsa can’t be a large brownie sundae a la mode…sometimes. 🙂
July 17, 2011 · 8:57 pm
One of the things we discussed in my training is the idea of consistency in practice; a little bit of practice, every day, will make a much bigger difference in your life both physically and mentally than one long practice once a week. So, in that vein, I’ve decided to start a blog to document my new journey as a yoga teacher and life in general. I see it as a place to share moments, quotes, tips and ideas that have made an impact on me, and that may have an impact on you. Just like a great snack helps to energize you until your next meal, perhaps Yoga Snax will do the same for your practice.
I’ve recently begun reading the writings of Thich Naht Hanh, an amazing Vietnamese Buddhist monk. When you read his words, you can feel the smile on his face. In fact, smiling seems to be his favorite thing to do and write about. I highly recommend his books, it’s hard not to feel better after doing so. For today, I’ll leave you with this quote:
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
What do you have to lose? 🙂