Yoga on Vacation

I always have these great intentions when I leave on vacation.  I pack books to read and journals to write or sketch in (even though I don’t sketch… I’m not sure why I think I’d be able to do it on vacation…).  I fill my makeup bag with odd things from Birchboxes past.  Sometimes I get really wound up and pack my yoga mat.  Even when I don’t pack the mat I still have all sorts of good intentions of doing yoga in picturesque locations….

Yeah….. none of that ever happens.

For one thing… yoga in picturesque places is SCARY!  Oh, sure… the prettiest locations are always so high up.  And then there’s the wiiinnnnddd.  So windy!  I swear, every place I tried to take yoga pictures I got blown all over the place…. which is so not conducive to balancing poses!

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So do I ever manage Yoga on vacation?

Yeah, sure… never how I imagined it.  No beautiful mountain tops or peaceful beaches… More often I find myself sneaking in a few quick poses in some Rest Area or gas station parking lot.

Favorite Road Trip Yoga Poses:

Forward Bends – good for the legs and back after sitting in an RV for days

Half-Moon Pose – wonderful for the hips

Tree Pose – ’cause Tree is just an awesome pose!  Its also calming and nice for the back and shoulders.  It’s nice to remind your body what good posture feels like.

Reclining Twists – heaven for backs, shoulders and necks

IMG_5664My yoga practice is never quite what I imagine it will be when I leave on vacation… Maybe one day I’ll try a Yoga Retreat…. but Yoga is always a part of my vacation.  I need it.

Not as picturesque as I’d hoped, but….. still good.

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Yoga In Real Life

I’m starting a new series on the blog: Yoga In Real Life.  The real stuff.  The imperfect stuff…. the honest and real side of my yoga experience.

One of my favorite yoga bloggers recently posted a video on Instagram that showed her falling out of a headstand.  She mentioned that she’d received a ton of comments on that post…. positive ones!

At first I thought, “Yeah, right!  I’d never post my yoga fails,” but then I realized that I almost never post any yoga photos.  Actually, I think I only post “Tree Pose.”  Duh!  It’s the pose where you stand up nice and tall and you suck in your tummy and turn your face up to the sky… thinning out any tummy bulge or face pudge….. and it makes you look tall!

I mean, I teach a yoga class… I can’t be posting photos where I’m falling over or not able to fully achieve the pose!   What?!  I can’t show that shit to students!

Then again… In class I’m always saying thing like “Its not the Destination, Its the Journey.”

Crap.

So I convinced Mom and Hubby to come out into the fresh snow with me and start shooting yoga photos.  And ya know what?  It was awesome!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was COLD! and a bit rough on the ego (Do I always make that face in Warrior?  Should I be sucking in my tummy more?  But then I can’t breathe!). It was eye opening to see what I actually looked like in the poses… I didn’t realize that I was over extending my arm in a couple of poses…. Thanks to Mom for playing Stage Mom and yelling at me from the sidelines.  It’s also been fun for me and Hubby to experiment with camera settings and lighting… and lenses and aperture… f-stop..thingies…. He really likes all the technical bits of photography.  I’m more into composition and frame… but… that’s been educational too.  🙂

Yoga in Real Life

 

So I’m going to be sharing more photos like the ones above.  Me tumbling off of rocks and falling out of poses… hopefully less photos of me slipping in the snow and messing up my knee…. but you get the picture.

I’ll also be sharing yoga inspirations and aspirations (Hello Headstands!).

Maybe you’ll find inspiration… or just a good laugh…. but most of all, I want you to remember:  Yoga is a Journey… It’s not about touching our toes…. It’s what we learn on the way down.

I hope you’ll follow along and share your comments and thoughts… feel free to giggle or offer suggestions.

For more photos and stories follow me on FacebookInstagram or Twitter!

Bourbon Balls

I have the greatest group of yoga students a person could ever hope for.

I never expected to become a yoga instructor.  I had been a yoga student off and on for several years, and had gotten out of the habit of attending classes regularly.  My plans to do yoga on my own at home never happened and eventually I came to realize how much I missed (and needed) yoga.

Mom discovered a class at a local church and we signed up.  It was a very slow paced class and the instructor warned us a couple of times that it was probably much slower than we were used to….. which was perfectly fine since we’d been out of it for so long and really…. I just needed someone to MAKE me do it.

We hadn’t been in class more than a few months when our instructor came down with a cold and asked me if I’d sub for her.  Sure!  My mouth answered before my brain had time to kick in and mention that I’d never taught before.  I was SO terrified my first class.  We stuck to the super basic poses and I’m pretty sure I stuttered the entire time.  Luckily, I already knew the other students and had a retired teacher or two among the group. They bossed me around a bit and offered tons of encouragement.  The next classes were even better and by the time our instructor had recovered I didn’t want to give the class back….. Looking back, I think that might have been her plan all along.  She asked if I might want to continue teaching the class and if the class would be okay with keeping me….. And suddenly I was a yoga instructor.

I still don’t think of myself as a yoga “teacher.”  I lead the class and offer direction… I nag them to practice at home and make sure we don’t just do the easy poses every time…. My “students” are the real teachers…. I’ve learned so much about yoga from their questions and issues.  They force me to continue to research and learn so that I can bring new poses and ideas back to them.  I have been so fortunate to have stumbled into this opportunity and absolutely blessed to have gotten to share yoga with these amazing people.  They are kind and encouraging, goofy and challenging… and I adore them all.

Last Christmas I made these Bourbon Balls as a gift for my class…. and I learned to not give yoga students Bourbon Balls before class….  Complete mayhem!   This year they wanted to know if I’d be making them again.  Yes… but I told them to take them home, not eat them in class.  🙂

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Bourbon Balls

Makes 25-30

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperatureBourbon Balls 1
  • 1 lb Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 3 Tbs Bourbon (I used Jim Bean, Honey Whiskey)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Chocolate Coating

  • 4-6 oz Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 25 – 30 Whole Pecan Halves (for garnish)

Combine softened butter and powdered sugar.  (The Kitchenaid makes this tons easier, but you could also use a Pastry Blender.)  The mixture will still be powdery at this point.

Once the butter and sugar are completely combined, add the bourbon and vanilla.  Now it will take on a more frosting-like texture.

If you’re using the Kitchenaid, just leave the mixture in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for an hour or so.

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Once the candy is nice and firm, remove from the fridge and grab your 1-inch Cookie Scoop.  I gave the dough a quick mix in the Kitchenaid again (that’s why I left it in the bowl), just to slightly soften up the butter again.  Just a quick spin, you don’t want it sticking in the scoop, but you do want soft enough to roll into balls.

(You don’t have to use a cookie scoop, but when I tried to roll the dough by hand it had weird lumps that the chocolate coating doesn’t hide.  It doesn’t hurt the taste, but it isn’t as pretty.)

Drop the dough balls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and refrigerate another hour or so.

Melt your chocolate.  (I use the Wilton Chocolate Pro Electric Melting Pot… I bought mine at Michaels’ with a 40% off coupon.) You can melt your chocolate in the microwave or double-broiler, but I like using the Wilton Melting Pot.  The chocolate starts to cool and clump as you try to coat the dough and I always get weird lumps…. the Melting Pot helps keep the chocolate melted and more even.) 

I used two fondu forks to dip the dough in the chocolate.  I stabbed one into the top of the ball and dipped it into the chocolate…. then used the second fork to help lift the ball out of the chocolate and back onto parchment lined pan.  I usually had a small spot on the very top without chocolate, but I just smooshed the pecan half down over the hole…. problem solved.

 

*Warning: Do not feed to yoga students before class…. they will not pay attention at all!

 

Finding Your Focus

Tree Pose

Tree Pose – Vrksasana

What better time to celebrate my favorite pose than during my favorite time of year?  I LOVE Tree Pose.

Visualization is an important part of yoga.  Visualizing the pose as it will be… even if you aren’t quite there yet, seeing it in your mind’s eye how it will become as you advance in your practice.

When you are in Tree Pose, no matter what stage you are at in your practice, you can visualize yourself as any tree.  Today I might be a mighty oak… strong, proud and sturdy.  Or perhaps my balance is a bit challenged and today I resemble a palm tree, swaying in the tropical breeze.  No matter what your challenge, you are always a tree… beautiful, strong and powerful….. grounded in the earth and still reaching for the sun.

I know, I know… I’ve already blogged about Tree…. check out the article on Drishti and finding your focus.

Tree Pose – Yoga Journal

Tree Pose – VIDEO – Yoga Journal 

Drishti – Finding your focus – Yoga Journal 

 

Be Kind, Please Unwind

Remember the sticker on the old VHS tapes we rented from the video store?  “Be Kind, Please Rewind”  Phrases get stuck in my head and tend to rattle around.  Usually they roll around and jumble up with other ideas.  This morning “Be Kind, Please UN-wind” floated to the surface and demanded attention.  Sure, kind of funny, but so what?

Somewhere in between my morning coffee and leaving the house for yoga class, it occurred to me, that really was a cute thought.  Since Boo woke me up at 6:30 this morning (guess she knew I was going to need more time!) I had the extra time to put together some little paper pouches with “Be Kind, Please Unwind” and a tea bag for each of my yoga students.IMG_4040

It is not that any of my students need to be reminded to be kind to others… I am blessed to have a class full of sweet, thoughtful and generous ladies and gentlemen…. My goal was to remind them to be kind to themselves.

We are all busy.  There is always something that needs to be done.  All too often we put off doing something nice for ourselves because we are so busy doing something for someone/something else.  Who are we kidding?  I like having the laundry folded, but that really isn’t a gift to myself!  Does having folded laundry make me a nicer/happier/better person?  Will I remember to smile and be friendlier to others because I dusted all the knickknacks (where did all those come from anyway?)? Umm…. probably not.  How about if I took an extra 20 minutes in the tub and read a few chapters in my latest book?  Maybe if I sat on the front porch with a glass of wine and watched Boo play in the leaves?  Am I getting anything accomplished?  No.  Maybe? Yes.  Twenty minutes of “me” time.  Time that is all mine… mine all glorious mine…. to do something completely useless and tremendously valuable all at the same time.

Taking time out to do something that is completely for yourself is good for the body, mind and spirit…. its good for the whole world too!  Don’t believe me that painting your toenails that gorgeous shade of red you’ve been drooling over will help promote world peace?  Did it make you happy?  Yes?  Then it counts!

How many times have you rushed through the grocery store, zoomed through the gas stations, barreled through your day with your list of to-do’s rolling around in your head?  Were you smiling?  When the lady at the check-out asked you how you were today did you say “fine” or did you smile and say “great” (all the while thinking about how adorable your new pedicure looked inside your shoes?  Did you smile at the man next to you at the gas pump?  Wave to the kids in the back of the school bus?

Doing little things (or big things!) that are special to you is important.  You never know what kind of day that kid on the school bus is having…. maybe your wave will be one of the little bright spots in his day.  Maybe that man at the gas station really needed a smile…. You just never know.  Having a “happiness reserve” built up in yourself helps you to spread happiness to others.  So, yes… painted toenails, long soaks in the tub and cups of hot tea really do promote world peace.  So please be sure to do your part.  Be Kind, Please Unwind.

Yoga Pose of the Week:  Threading the Needle – SUCIRANDHRASANA

This is another one of those poses that wasn’t named the name that I thought it was named. I am notoriously bad at remembering the names… even worse at remembering the Sanskrit names, but this time even YogaJournal.com couldn’t give me an answer.  Yoga Journal says THIS is Sucirandhrasana or Eye of the Needle pose.  Does the name really matter?  Not as far as I am concerned, but I just want to mention to you (so if you ever go to a class where the teacher is big on names, you won’t be surprised to hear things called something different).

I searched twists on Google until I found the following examples:

Description from YogaBasics.com

Description from Roxdoesyoga.com

Video from Happy Yoga with Sarah Starr

Yoga Homework: 

Drink your tea and take at least twenty minutes to do something that is for you and the Universe.  Be Kind, Please Unwind.

Monkey Mind

I thought I would just skim through Yoga Journal, pick a pose and knock out a quick blog about it before heading off to bed. Of course, it wasn’t that easy. Which pose to choose? This is the first real post in our new yoga blog…. it had to be good.. meaningful… perfect… So I kept scrolling, picking and discarding poses right and left, I wandered through blogs and other beautifully designed sites… I was starting to make myself crazy, and then I remembered one of the most important lessons that yoga has taught me. “Shut Up and Listen.” You probably don’t want to cross stitch that, but it is a pretty powerful lesson. When I became a yoga student my head was filled with thoughts; work thoughts and home thoughts and worry thoughts… round and around…Monkey Mind. I finally found the calm in yoga when we started learning more challenging poses. My mind was forced to shut up and I had to listen…. listen to my feet, listen to my knees… listen to my breath. The world went away and yoga brought me a sense of calm.

Am I a completely zen and calm person today?  Heavens no!  But yoga has helped me to incorporate more of that calm and quiet into my life.  When my heart starts to thump frantically and the thoughts begin to spin in my head, more and more often I am able to recall my yoga. To stop, to breathe, to listen and to feel….

So I took a deep breath… and I stopped to listen.  Tree Pose is my favorite.  That’s the pose I wanted to talk about.  So whether that is the perfect place to begin or not, that is the pose that I keep coming back to.  So Tree Pose – Vrksasana is where we will begin our blog.  Tree Pose is an excellent pose to combat Monkey Mind.  It is just challenging enough that you need to tell all those random thoughts to be quite.  “Hush.  I need to listen to my toes.  My ankles are telling me how to adjust my balance… my belly button is reminding me to stand up straighter and to draw my shoulders back.  I’m lifting my arms to the sky and my fingertips are reminding me that it is a beautiful day.  Hush, Monkey Mind…. I am doing yoga.”

Tree Pose – Vrksasana

Yoga @ BT

Check out Yoga Journal for a great explanation of Tree Pose and the tips and variations.

I know, I know… we have done this pose a thousand times in class…. just humor me… watch the video anyway.

Tree Pose Video – Yoga Journal.com

Tree Pose Article – Yoga Journal.com

I don’t plan to explain “how” to do the poses here in this blog.  We do that in class.  In the blog I want to introduce you   to other sources of information.  Sometimes just hearing someone else explain it, or demonstrate the pose will make     something new click for you.

You will notice that most of my yoga links are from YogaJournal.com.  I just like Yoga Journal.  I think it is a great source   of information, nicely broken down into a variety of ways for students (and teachers) to understand.  Yoga Journal has   a number of e-newsletters that you could subscribe to for free.  You could also subscribe to the magazine if you prefer   to have your media in a hard copy.  I subscribe to Yoga Journal (big surprise, huh?) so I would be happy to share        magazines if you are interested.

This is me doing Tree Pose on the runway at Bonne Terre Airport.

Yoga Homework:  Watch the videos and read the two articles.  Go OUTSIDE and do a few tree poses.

Bonus Points: Take your shoes off and wiggle your toes in the grass/leaves when you do your Tree Poses.

This week in class we were listening to: The Emerald Way 2002 – Available on Amazon.com and iTunes

Have a wonderful week, Yoga Kittens.  Thank you for sharing your yoga time with me!

– S

Hello, Yoga Kittens!

Well, here it is!  I’ve had this idea roaming around in my head for quite a while, but as you know….. my thoughts tend to meander and wander off on their own.  With the start of a new series of classes in Bonne Terre I had a great motivation to actually DO what I’ve been just been thinking about.

So a bit about the Bonne Terre Classes: Why am I teaching YOGA at an Airport?  My family has recently entered into an agreement with the City of Bonne Terre to re-open and manage the Bonne Terre Airport.  As a family we decided to incorporate the things we enjoy into the Airport’s operations.  “We’re not just a PLANE airport.”  Dad has his airplanes, I’m teaching Yoga, Mom likes to knit, so there will be a Knitting Circle…. Brian likes cars…. umm…. so far he’s out of luck, but he helps with all of the Events! If you know a car club that would like to do Coffee Clubs, send em our way!

Bonne Terre Airport Yoga Group –  Wednesday Evenings, 6:00pm – 7:00pm and Thursday Mornings, 10:00am – 11:00am – See the WEBSITE 

Yoga Kitten does Down Dog

Yoga Kitten does Down Dog

What you can expect to see here on the Blog:  

Pose of the Month – We’ll pick one new pose each month to focus on and I’ll provide you with great videos and articles from Yoga Journal.

Music – What we’re listening to in class.  Since I upgraded iPhones, my speakers don’t like the new phone and we can’t play the Pandora Radio in the Monday Class (Not a problem in the Bonne Terre Class!) so we’re listening to some of my favorite albums on the iPod.  I’ll list CD’s we’re listening to and try to provide you the links where you can purchase them.  This should also force me to change up the music too!

Homework – Yes, Charlotte was right, I’m going to give you Yoga Homework.  It’s not that bad!  It’ll be fun stuff!

Events –  Not only will I tell you about fun events I’ve discovered, but now you’ll have the links to the info too!

Places – Restaurants, stores, pretty places….

Thank you, Yoga Kittens!  I hope you enjoy!

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You’ll notice on the right side of the page are the links to the Upcoming Events, My Favorite Places  (we talked about that already).  Clicking on My Blogroll and Other Pages will take you to non-yoga related blogs and posts of mine… You’ll find ramblings and recipes, parties and travel ideas…. Click around and enjoy!

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