The last two days have been filled with preparations and celebrations for my awesome little(r) sister Katie. Every year I try to bake something a little extra special for the occasion. In the past there have been mint chocolate chip cupcakes, cookie dough cupcakes and (a not-so-successful attempt at) marshmallow-stuffed chocolate chip cookies. This year I was leaning toward another attempt at marshmallow goodness when I came across this ring ding recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but ring dings were a pretty big deal for Katie and I when we were growing up. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to recreate the delicious treat. It was quite a process, and I admit I need some work injecting icing into cake, but the result was pretty tasty.
Mmm mmm good.
Today my mom and aunt were coming into town for a birthday lunch with Katie, which meant some cleaning had to be done. However, I was able I get in some yoga time between baking and dusting.
Last night I opted to do a gratitude meditation before bed, thinking of everyone and everything I am thankful for in my life, and when I was done I sat and repeated a mantra of “Grateful” for a few minutes. This I the first time I’ve done this before bed and I have to say, it was a great way to end the day and clear the mind before getting into bed.
This morning I did my own personal practice, which included a flow of sun salutations and hip and hamstring stretches. Basically whatever I felt my body needed. I finished up with a little handstand practice and then I was ready to start my day.
Now it’s time to continue the birthday celebration! It’s hard to believe tomorrow is day 30. Time flies!
It has been a fun few days in Philly! Between the amazing food, beautiful weather and getting to see old friends, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. That said, we’ve been going non-stop, so when it came time for the man-friend to go to work yesterday, it suddenly hit me that I was exhausted. Usually I look forward to getting on my mat for some “me time,” but yesterday even that seemed like too much of an effort. As I’ve said before, the practice of yoga is about tuning in and understanding what your body needs. Yesterday afternoon, I knew what my body really needed was a nap.
Of course, napping in the middle of the day can end up throwing you off, especially this time of year when it gets dark out so early. When I woke up yesterday I was pretty groggy, and since I was meeting an old friend for dinner, I really needed to wake up. I decided a short meditation would do just the trick. I set myself up on the bed with a lot of pillows for support so that I wasn’t distracted by any physical discomfort in my body, set my phone alarm for 10 minutes, then closed my eyes and began some deep ujaii breath and repeated my so hum mantra (I discussed meditation techniques more in depth back in this post). When the alarm went off, I felt more centered and calm and I was ready to catch up with an old friend over delicious food!
Today I’m hoping to try out a yoga studio in the area. But first, it’s time for some touristy action at Independence Hall. Have a great day everyone!
- Extremely grateful for this love muffin.
“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” One of the greatest lines from a TV show if you ask me. But when you really think about it, it’s also a great perspective to take in life. In yoga, we dedicate our practice to emptying the mind and filling the heart in order to see more clearly and live more deeply. Coach Taylor would probably scoff, but he is quite the yogi.
I have been feeling this mantra even more deeply in recent months. My heart is so full of gratitude for all of the incredible changes and amazing opportunities that have come my way. But even more importantly, I am so thankful for all of my family and friends, who have been such an amazing support system along the way. Thank you will never be enough to express how I feel about all of you.
While I won’t be with my family today for Thanksgiving, I am fortunate to be able to spend it with my friend Ashleigh at her family’s alpaca farm! Extremely grateful to have such hospitable friends all over the country.
Wherever you are and whomever you are with today, I wish you all a healthy, safe and delicious Thanksgiving….and of course, clear eyes and full hearts.
Hello Yogis! September is National Yoga Month, which was started as a way to bring awareness to the practice of yoga and healthy living. In honor of this occasion, I am offering a free private or semi-private session to anyone interested, whether you are brand new to yoga, are interesting in deepening your practice, or just want some quality Colleen time. It’s never too late (or early!) to start, and what a better way to do it than a free private session?
If you’re interested, you can visit my contact page to email me. Please include your contact info and whether or not you’ve ever practiced yoga, and what you’re looking for in a private session.
Feel free to spread the word! I look forward to hearing from you.
Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal. –Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois
Filed under Meditation, Yoga
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
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? 🙂