Monday, March 30, 2015

This weekend in my garden

Oh hey there, blog friends.
Welcome to my weekly weekend recap post.
What the what?! March is coming to a close?! Sheesh! Things are heating up in Arizona and I did the unthinkable and turned our air conditioning on for a while on Saturday afternoon. I came home from yoga teacher training and the house was 85° so I broke down and gave it a shot of cool air. ~sigh~ I remain optimistic that we'll have another little cool spell between now and June 1st...

Doug was away on a fishing trip this weekend, so Carrie and I had "Friday night date night" without him. We tried a new Mexican restaurant (yum) and saw a movie (Cinderella). We loved the movie but had to laugh at the crazy assortment of movie goers in the theater that night. From the woman who chose to sit right next to me when 90% of the other seats were available {which I suppose isn't really a big deal but it felt odd at the time}, to the people behind us who talked through most of the film, to the child with flashing lights on their shoes who didn't sit still for the entire movie...

Baby Casper under the antler bridge.

Saturday was all about yoga. I taught in the morning, and learned in the afternoon. Actually, I learned all day long, but the morning and afternoon presented opposite roles for me. All of it was awesome.

Shy boy Rexy by my Renaissance Festival mushrooms.  

Once a month I have a two-day yoga workshop as part of my next level of yoga teacher certification and this was the weekend for that. So Sunday afternoon found me right back in the studio for another 3-hour training session. Obviously, I love it! But I sure do miss my yoga buddies from my original teacher training class! I know in time this new set of yoga friends will be dear to my heart, but for now...

Anyway! Other than yoga, there was sunshine and springtime all around me. This year's round of sunflowers are off to a beautiful start, and our yellow bells Esperanza tree has finally taken hold. I can't even tell you how many times we've had Doug has had to save this tree! From Lucky digging it up a couple of times to strong winds uprooting it... Dare I say it's finally taken root? There are more blooms on it now than we've ever seen. :o)

And now it's Monday and I have about a million and one things on my mind! Lots of stuff to plan for and take care of and be happy about. It's a short work-week for me {woot-woot!!!} because we're closed for Good Friday, I get to see my California brother this week {woot-woot!!!}, and I have an appointment to get my hair done {yay!}.

Have a great week, everyone!
"May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts and actions of our lives contribute to that happiness and freedom for all." {Yoga happiness mantra}

Friday, March 27, 2015

Just a Quote for Friday

"If you want to see the brave, look to those who can return love for hatred. If you want to see the heroic, look to those who can forgive."
~ The Bhagavad Gita

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cultivating a home yoga practice ~ Take what you need

My daughter had some questions for me last week about my home yoga practice. She wanted to know what time of day I practice, how long I practice, and what poses I do. I get asked these questions from others from time to time, so I thought I'd make a blog post out of it.

Why practice yoga?
Why? Well, because it feels so good and is so good for you! Science is catching up and proving yoga’s benefits, thousands of years after our fore-father-yogis instinctively knew how good it was for us. Not only is it great for our physical bodies – building strength, increasing flexibility, stamina and range of motion– it’s also calming to the mind, and soothing for your soul. Yoga can relieve joint stiffness, alleviate anxiety and depression, reduce blood pressure and help you sleep better… Quite frankly, yoga can change your life.
Pick a time to practice.
I know you’re busy – I get that. We’re all busy! So just like anything else that you really want to do for yourself, you’ll want to schedule some time for yoga. I typically practice in the morning before I start getting ready for work.

My favorite time for my home practice is at the end of my work day. A couple times a week I come home from work, change into some comfortable clothes, and hit my yoga mat. I love the transition between work and fighting rush hour traffic, to coming home and getting centered before it’s time to put dinner together.

Now, if you have a tough time scheduling it into your day, just practice yoga anytime you happen to think about it! Standing really tall and taking a few deep breaths doesn't have to happen only when you are barefoot and on your mat! Get creative with your practice on days when you can't roll it out.
How long do I practice each time I’m on my mat?
The length of my morning practice depends on how much time I’ve spent blogging or taking care of household stuff before I need to get ready for work. It’s usually between 5-20 minutes, with 5-10 of those minutes reserved for quiet meditation. I used to feel like those short bursts of yoga time weren’t significant, but I’ve come to believe that they are awesome! Five minutes of yoga is five times better than zero minutes of yoga!

The length of time for my evening practice varies, but I do have more time to linger on my mat if I choose. I practice between 20 minutes to an hour on those nights, once or twice a week. I also attend at least one yoga class per week at my local studio with a yoga teacher that really challenges me.
Using music as a time marker.
I have a few playlists of varying length. If I’m short on time I’ll press play on my 7-minute playlist and practice until it’s over. You could also turn the radio on and set a timer. Commit to remaining on your mat until the allotted time is done.
What poses should I practice?
I used to be very routine about my home practice, and in hindsight I realize that this may have created a little burnout or staleness in my time on the mat. If I am pressed for time, I’ll practice a few rounds of sun salutations (surya namaskara) and call it good. If I don’t really have a time limit, or I'm just not feeling it for sun salutations, I just take what I need.
My “take what you need” philosophy.
I have a “take what I need” strategy with my home practice. I step onto my mat, bring my hands to prayer position at my heart (Anjali mudra), close my eyes and take a really deep breath. I’ll repeat a few breaths, just settling myself in and preparing for my practice.
Sometimes I'll practice sun salutations – it usually feels like a good place to start – and then I just do what my body leads me to do. That might mean I do a bunch of standing poses, or I might free-stretch to my music – moving any way that feels good in order to loosen up areas in my body that feel tight. Once you’ve practiced for a while you will be able to focus on tight areas right away and you’ll instinctively know that you need to stretch into those spots.

Other times I might feel like I need a gentler practice so I’ll lay on my back for some deep torso twists, bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana), maybe some core crunches, reclined cobbler’s pose (supta bada konasana), taking whatever I need.

When I practice for more than 20 minutes at any one time, I always make time for corpse pose (savasana). I've heard it said that this is the most important pose in the long list of asanas, and some might claim that it’s one of the most challenging. It requires complete stillness for a few minutes (or as long as possible up to 15 minutes) after a yoga practice, allowing your work to settle in and take hold.

But Deb, I don't know any yoga poses!
Here's the beauty of yoga: you don't have to know fancy yoga poses in order to practice yoga! Standing tall, deepening your breath, moving a little in your body, being mindful and in the moment - that could be your yoga! That could be your version of taking what you need at any time of the day.

And there's always the internet. You can search for poses that are specific to your own needs. Type "yoga poses for low back pain" in Google or YouTube and you'll be presented with all kinds of options!
In summary:
The way I practice yoga at home is based on my own individual needs; and those needs change on a daily basis. Ok, sometimes they change many times over the course of a day even! But when it comes to my home yoga practice, I am the boss of me on my mat. I use that time, every time, to take what I need and I don't get hung up on what I "should" be doing on my mat.

I would love to know that you do the same. Know that there are no set rules to practicing yoga at home, and that you will choose wisely whatever is right for your body. Yoga doesn't have to be a complicated mystery.

Yoga just wants you to take what you need.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A renaissance weekend with my girl

Hey there, friends.
Happy Monday to each of you.
This was another weekend for the memory books. We spent our time - from Friday night to Sunday evening - with friends and family. Surround that with Arizona's springtime weather and you have yourself a fantastic couple of days!

Doug and I had dinner with friends on Friday night and then dinner with his family on Saturday night. Lots of laughs and good times there - not to mention lots of yummy food and our fair share of drink. ;o) We were temporarily locked out of our house on Friday evening, so Carrie came to our rescue and sat and visited with us for a while. Loved that!

Saturday morning's yoga class was awesome - a second chance to lead yoga and I was way more comfortable with it this week. Yay! And then yesterday Carrie and I headed out to the annual Renaissance Festival. We had so much fun, and these are the photos I have to share...

Lots of sunshine, lots of people...

Every year I say I'm going to buy one of these scarves with beads and coins that jingle. This year I did it.

Last year I talked myself out of buying one of these ceramic mushrooms for our garden. This year I got my mushroom too.

And Carrie and I both got henna tattoos, as per the usual.

There was also a bit of hula hooping where the fun factor is a bit more enhanced if you are wearing a scarf with beads and coins that jingle.

One of the things I love about the Renaissance Festival is all the color - bright colors every where you look...

Awesome, awesome, awesome weekend. I hope yours was awesome too!
Here's to the new week ahead...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just a Quote for Friday

"Just living is not enough...
one must have sunshine, freedom,
and a little flower."

~ Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Little captain, really big boat.

Lately I've been having dreams about driving a large vehicle through really tight spaces. One night it was a city bus and I was freaked out because I'd never driven one before, but I sat there on a bench at the bus station with my mom on one side of me and my dad on the other, both reassuring me I'd be able to maneuver the thing through the busy city streets.

Then there was a dream where I was driving a huge RV on a busy highway, with cement barricades to my left and high speed traffic to my right. "Keep it steady, Deb, you're doing it...stay in your're doing it..." going through my mind as I held on to the steering wheel for dear life!

An interesting concept - me in charge of operating something that big through precarious circumstances - and it got me thinking about the significance.

This past weekend I taught my first yoga class for pay. Like, I am an official yoga teacher for hire, my friends!

The honor and the level of responsibility of leading a yoga practice for other people is not lost on me. I love yoga so much, and I knew that I had 75 minutes to make an impression for my students so that they might come to love it too.

My dreams leading up to that day felt significant as I stepped on my mat in front of my students. "Here I go again - a little captain in charge of a really big boat," I thought - but I knew I could do it.

And I did.

Those barricades I'd constructed in my mind, that high speed traffic to one side, the oversized emotional vehicle I chose to maneuver, it all worked out just fine.


Monday, March 16, 2015

What a great weekend!

Let's just jump right in to the recap, shall we?

Perhaps the most exciting part of the weekend for me was that I taught my first official yoga class. I was so happy at the end when my friend Justin suggested we take a photo for social media. LOL. Ah - yoga friends are the best.

I taught yoga Saturday morning, then that afternoon I attended a 2-hour yin/yang flow yoga class set to the music of The Eagles and taught by one of my favorite teachers. It was so much fun! Phew - two hours of yoga was awesome for my body and I felt the results for the rest of the weekend. I love how yoga gives you sore muscles in places you didn't even know you had muscles. ;o)

Our Arizona weather was gorgeous - GORGEOUS - this weekend and I spent as much time as possible outside!

Saturday afternoon mandala drawing in the sunshine = bliss.

I played in the dirt a whole bunch this weekend too - tended to my little garden and also planted seeds in a couple of containers. I'm hoping we'll have a nice little crop of spinach and cilantro before it gets too hot around these parts.

Beautiful day, annoying pigeons on the fence. They wait for patio clearance so they can swoop in and scavenge for dog food bits. Ick - they make a big mess...

We thought about taking a drive on Sunday to see some wildflowers out in the desert, but when we got up yesterday morning neither of us wanted to mess with it. I texted Carrie with an impromptu invite for breakfast and she came over in her pajamas and ate with us. :o) It was SO awesome to just stay home for the day! I needed it in the worst way. I spent lots of time in the backyard, soaking up some sun and drawing another mandala...

This weekend was so good for my soul ~ from Friday night's date night to last night's sunset...

And now it's Monday morning.
There's yoga to practice, another cup of coffee to be had, and work awaiting...
Catch you on the flip side!
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