Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Niyama: Tapasya (austerity)

As I write this blog post, the thought pops into my head:  "who are you to write about austerity?"  Some days, I think I live a simple life.  We have no children, no tv, no debt.  I feel very content most of the time, especially concerning material things.  I have few wants.  But is my life simple?
Today, I would have to say "no".  Today's to-do list won't fit on the dayplanner page, so I'm having to look at what MUST be done today, and what can wait.  I have spent the day (again) making phone calls to the landlord, the gas company, two different computer guys, and returning phone calls for people who are interested in trying yoga.  I've taught 2 yoga classes, gone to two meetings, cleaned some at the studio, and it's not even 2 pm.  I can't say that's simple.
But that's life these days.  Any of us who don't practice our yoga in a cave somewhere have to deal with the different directions our lives pull us.  We have obligations, responsibilities, and to-do lists.
I think this Niyama is at least partially about how we deal with it all.  Simplicity in life, in knowing our values.  Simplicity in what we know to be True, Right, and worthy of our time and efforts.
When we love something, and devote much of our time to it, I believe that is simplicity.  The things I value most in life are:  God, my husband, my family, Mountain Yoga, my practice, and our numerous pets.  This week, I have made time for each of these.  Not as much as I would like.  But when I look back through my week, I have spent the majority of my time on what I value. 
I believe there's just a little simplicity in that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yoga for Singers & Performers

A couple weeks ago, Dr. Sun-Joo Oh (“Sunny”) asked me to do a yoga class for her singing students at ETSU, specifically designed for their needs. I was thrilled to work with this group, and interested to learn about their special concerns. I had never considered the specific needs in yoga for those who sing, play instruments, or perform in other ways, so it gave me a chance to research & learn a new topic. I found so much information! If there’s enough interest, I would love to do a 3-hour workshop at the studio on this one.

I began by printing out anatomy sheets for each of the students, and discussing just some of the muscles I intended to highlight. I was so excited that the class was clearly engaged in the process. Next, we did a short class, using all the muscles we covered, plus a few more. It was a light-hearted, fun time. Thank you, Sunny, for the invitation, and thank you, students for the warm reception.

A few highlights:

-singers should remember to keep their cervical (neck) spine in line with the rest of their spine, not only while singing, but also while driving, or carrying the heavy books around campus.

-relaxing the muscles in the front of the neck can have a long-term impact on the vocal cords

-yogic 3-part breath (inhale chest, then ribs, then belly…then reverse for the exhale) will help strengthen and stretch the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs.

-pranayama, or yogic breath practice is very helpful, and is easily practiced on-the-go

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Root to Stem

In one of my recent magazines, I read an article about “root to stem” eating. Making sure every usable part of the plant is consumed. At our house, it’s all consumed, but not necessarily by humans. First, Scott & I eat what we want, then the dog gets whatever she would like that is safe for her. She loves meat, of course, but will try just about anything. She even eats carrots. The chickens are next. They love tomatoes, especially, and corn on the cob is a real treat for them. Finally, whatever is not consumed as food eventually makes it to the compost pile.

This reduces the amount of waste in the garbage can, but also clears our conscience, and cares for our animals.

If you don’t have animals, you can try the “root to stem” movement for yourself. Did you know that you can eat the greens from carrots? They are nutritious and tasty. Try them on your salad. End pieces, and parts of veggies that aren’t so pretty can be chopped fine for salads, or juiced. After juicing, the pulp can even be used for muffins and other breads!

What can you do today to waste less food? With so many in our world going hungry, it’s important that we all be good stewards of our blessings.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to Normal?

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I’ve written anything for the blog. The new studio space next door has been a huge challenge, but now it’s open and functioning! But I realized I have not had much of a brain for the last month. I’m amazed at how much work it takes to open a second studio space. It’s almost as much as starting a new business! There are lease negotiations, scheduling with the teachers, calling utilities, choosing & installing flooring, painting, decorating, buying everything from a new computer to toilet paper…and it all has to be done NOW! I’m not complaining. I think this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do. And I think it will be amazing for the Johnson City Yoga community. But my brain is tired.

I must say that if it weren’t for my yoga, I don’t know how I would have gotten it all done. My greatest tool of the last few weeks has been the breath. When I feel overwhelmed, if I can just remember to breathe really deeply, I feel so much better.

The other survival tool has been my incredible family. My husband, my parents, and my in-laws have all worked on the space. Several of our students have commented that they can feel the love there. But it just reminds me: yoga is more than just asana. It’s love, and community, and breath and meditation, and so many things.