December Yoga Experience: Day 6

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

We are all beginners at one time. Tonight, I became one again as I took Tammy’s beginner class at Inner Bliss with my dear friends Jill and Angelina. I was looking forward to slowing down and learning something new–yoga is always teaching me something.

When I was a beginner, I wanted to do what everybody else was doing, not really understanding the journey that they had taken to arrive where they were. But lately, I have noticed that I am not in a rush to get to the next thing, to try a “harder” posture, be able to touch my nose to my knee. I am so happy being where I am, lighting up my body as it is today, doing what’s right for me.

The energy was great in the class, and everyone was focused and really breathing. I enjoyed exploring poses from a beginner’s perspective and really relished the transition from pose to pose. I even learned that I need to press my palms down instead of away to help ground me in downward dog.

As we lay in savasana, Tammy came around to us and gave us each a little neck rub. This is one of my favorite treats that IB offers–such one-on-one attention! I felt so happy and relaxed at that moment, and when I rose, I felt new all over, like a beginner.

December Yoga Experience: Day 5

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” ~ Maya Angelou

Wow, I have done yoga 4 days in a row! Go me! And then my expectations creep in: Why are my hips still tight? Why is it hard for me to focus today? Is this even working? 🙂

Good thing I went to Kimberly’s class, because she answered all my questions when she read the above quote during practice. I’m not doing yoga to get answers; I’m singing my song. I’m not there to loosen my hips, I’m there to breath.

And then I looked across the room, and I saw my dear friend Angelina in this fierce warrior pose. So beautiful, so strong, so committed to her stance. She was singing her song, and I could feel it.

I felt so inspired by her, that I refocused myself and began to sing my song.

December Yoga Experience: Day 4

Like any structure, yoga is built from the foundation up. ~ Anusara Yoga’s Universal Principles Of Alignment

Today was the Great Giveback at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio, where the teachers gave 10 free yoga classes all day long. What a wonderful gift–I passed this on to many friends, and my dearest friend Jill came with me.

We went to Ginny’s class at 2 p.m. (we were out quite late the night before :)), and I was excited for Jill to experience a Ginny class as she has taught me so much about alignment. What I have learned from Ginny is that paying attention to how you position yourself in each pose gives more meaning to your practice. How do you hold yourself in this world? Are you even aware of your feet, your toes, your baby toe?

I set my intention to really think about my foundation, and how being in alignment made me feel. I really pressed my feet into the earth; I really felt the line of energy as I opened up my heart; I really connected my palm to my mat in downward dog. Knowing where I stood made it easy to move on.

My friend truly enjoyed the class, and even cried a little. But she was thankful for the release–as we all are–and said that when Ginny asked to think of someone to thank, she thought of me. Funny, as I was thinking of her. I guess that’s why we’re friends. 🙂

December Yoga Experience: Day 3

“Grace is a wind that is always blowing. If you really want freedom and unbounded happiness in this lifetime, set your sail now! Learn how putting your trust in Yoga’s practical and verifiable science connects you to a wisdom that never disappointments.” ~ Leonard Perlmutter

Who goes to yoga on a Friday night? I do! But Jenn’s class is so much fun–she calls it “Happy Hour” yoga, and you definitely feel more relaxed after her class than you would after a few glasses of wine. 🙂

I have really been enjoying focusing on a phrase as I practice, and for this class, it was the word “grace.” What does it mean to be graceful? For me, it was keeping the breath moving and flowing in the face of my own discomfort. It’s getting back up when falling down, but it’s also not being hard on myself for falling–grace is loving myself, exactly as I am.

But that’s difficult for me to do as I have never really been happy with my body. Overweight for most of my life, I deal with body issues on a daily basis. So when I saw my fat roll smile at me while I was in downward dog, at first, I looked at it with disgust. A few downward dogs later, I didn’t even see it–partly because I was pulling my belly in even more, and partly because I had this realization: What if that roll NEVER goes away? What then? You gotta be happy as you are now, and work towards a healthier you. And, do it with grace.

As in all of Jenn’s classes, we eventually came to navasana. But this time, instead of dreading this pose, I welcomed it; I pulled in and shone out. And you know what? It felt so easy, so effortless, even though I knew I was working. I had embodied grace–elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

As Jenn says at the end of Happy Hour, peace out yogis!

December Yoga Experience: Day 2

Inhale, and God approaches you.  Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.  Exhale, and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.  ~Krishnamacharya

Inner Bliss was delightfully calm tonight as I arrived for my second class of my 30-day Holiday Class Pass. There’s nothing like a yoga studio to chill you out… 🙂

But as soon as we started practicing, my energy sparkled, and I was having so much fun! I began my practice with a new pose that I had never done before–it’s always exciting to experience something for the first time. Thank you, Tammy, for the surprise!

The chi kept flowing as we practiced standing splits, and my movements made me elated–I felt like I was flying! I soared on my breath, inhaling and exhaling with such intention and awareness.

So tuned in, I had a realization when I was breathing into my heart: As it lifted, my shoulders naturally dropped down my back for support. Rising the heart on the inhale, sinking the shoulders on the exhale. A rhythmic flow of give and take that completes itself.  Now that I understood the relationship of lifting and supporting, the pose became so much lighter, intensely brighter, yet softer, more inviting.

When I lost the breath, the Ego chimed in: “When is this going to be over? My ankle is burning!” I laughed in my head and said to the Ego, “What’s the rush? Let’s just practice.”

Focusing on the breath was enlightening and gave a deeper meaning to my practice tonight. I felt so connected to myself, as well as to my fellow yogis. When we ended the class with a resounding “om,” the sound was vibrating with such a peaceful energy, like a Warrior.

The heart, the breath…what will be my next intention?

December Yoga Experience: Day 1

Yoga is invigoration in relaxation.  Freedom in routine.
Confidence through self control.  Energy within and energy without.
~Ymber Delecto

December 2010 marks the nine-year anniversary of my yoga practice. To honor my journey, I purchased the December Holiday Pass at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio, which enables me to one class every day (except Christmas) for the month.

I’m really looking forward to practicing every day–I’m even going to practice yoga on Christmas morning–because I know how amazing I’ll feel, both mentally and physically. I just finished a three-week Experience guided by Tammy Lyons, the lovely owner of Inner Bliss, where we cleansed ourselves by eating whole foods, drinking plenty of water, and practicing yoga five days a week, among other activities. During the Experience, I remember feeling so wonderful after doing yoga two days in a row, so when the opportunity came for a daily experience, I saw the gift before me.

To enhance my daily practice, I’m also committing to many of the new habits I formed after the Experience, including eating whole foods, drinking a half gallon of water daily, giving gratitude before eating, cleansing with a fruit fast, listening to my body, and journaling.

I’m especially excited to write about my daily practice and the changes I see in myself. Though a writer for years, this will be my first time expressing about yoga so intently. I also welcome a deeper, richer practice, where I am fearless on my mat, open to meaningful conversations with myself, and more aware of the world around me. As in yoga, I will take this experience one day at a time, and cherish every moment.

Today was my first class, and Kimberly was the teacher. She asked us to set an intention for the class, and she gave out some recommendations, including the one I chose: “soften your heart.” What a beautiful image to invision while I practiced. Thank you, Kimberly! I flowed smoothly through the class, noticing my strength; feeling my heart lifted and free; leaving behind the thoughts that did not serve me. When it came time to rest in savasana, my mind felt  at ease.

After one yoga class, and at least 29 more to go, I am excited for the journey ahead. Tomorrow is a new day, a different class, a unique experience. I invite you to join me on this journey to bliss, one day at a time.

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You can still sign up for Inner Bliss’ December Holiday Pass:

  1. Go to www.innerblissyogastudio.com
  2. Select “Schedule of Classes” in the top navigation
  3. Select “Online Store” in the top-left navigation
  4. Select “Classes” for “What kind of Series or Membership would you like?”
  5. Select “Daily Holiday Pass for December from 12/1-12/31 at $149” for “Which Series or Membership would you like?”
  6. Select “Make Purchase”
  7. Log in to or create a new Inner Bliss account

The Experience: Week 1

I have been doing the experience for an entire week now, and I am feeling great. I really think it takes a week to let my body adjust to the changes and notice how good I feel…and how not great I feel when I eat something not whole.

Case in point: Dan, Jim and I went out for Chinese food yesterday. I ordered tofu and broccoli in a szechuan sauce, and I felt OK but not as good as if I would have made it at home. Plus, I didn’t miss the white rice at all! And I am also noticing that I don’t need to eat that much to feel full.

The yoga has been inspiring, especially Dawn’s class yesterday. It was my first class with her, and the way she lead it made me feel strong yet balanced and full of energy. I welcomed child’s pose; I forgot how wonderful cat and cow pose are; we got to fly as crows.

I am forgiving myself a little this weekend with Jim’s visit as I am doing the best that I can while still being social. I am also noticing that place where I usually get pizza (we went to Bar Cento on Friday night) also has lovely scallops and broccoli rabe–which is what I had, and it was delicious!

I truly don’t miss alcohol at all. I do love having a glass of wine with friends or Dan, but I am thankful that neither Dan or I are big drinkers. We enjoy it now and then, but we definitely don’t need it to have a good time.

Last night, we went to the Brite Winter Festival in the Flats. While the website promised so much, what we walked into was a bunch of people standing around, some by the two roaring hobo fires, drinking in the cold and snow while a rock band (for lack of a better word) played inside a glowing cube (we think, anyway, as we couldn’t really see them, and not for the huge crowd but for the lack of desire to wander any closer). Dan and I are pretty sure this is the same festival we went to when we first moved here, but that one had snowboarders and was located with a better view of the river. Anyways, it was something to check out–you never know what you’ll get in Cleveland.

Today I will head to Kristin’s class in the afternoon, which is always a nice way to ease into Sunday evening.

What’s for lunch?

Angelina and I went to Good ‘n Raw for lunch today and got the “Tuna” salad, made with a mix of nuts, spices, celery and red onion, and Two Moms in the Raw Pesto Sea Cracker, made from a seed mix. Both are really tasty!

So far, the Experience is going well. I had red meat last night and could definitely feel is sitting in my stomach all night long. I have thought about giving up meat altogether, and last night made a good case for it.

Tonight, I am going to yoga and there will be a DJ spinning music. So much fun!!!

First evening of the Inner Biss Yoga Experience

Tonight I am starting a 3-week journey to get to know myself better. I will be doing lots of yoga, nourishing and hydrating myself, taking time to listen to my body and gain a deeper understanding and a brighter clarity about the world.

I am going to use the blog to post about my experiences as well as journal my body listening. Plus, I will share photos and recipes of food I make and any other musings that come along. 🙂

Tonight, after a deep meditation about where I want to be after this whole experience, I came home to a clean home and made some apples and peanut butter as a snack. For dinner, some roasted butternut squash and green tea.

My motto for this journey: just enough. And to invest in myself so that I can have more of myself to give. So beautiful!