One small trick for dealing with big emotions

One small trick for dealing with big emotions

I hate crying! I’m not talking about the occasional tear of either joy, empathy, or sadness. I’m referring to the racking sobs that make my face puff up, my nose stuff up, and my brain shut up. I’m willing to admit that such cathartic release of emotions is probably healthy on some level but the physical sensations plus the mental reaction that follows cause me to avoid anything that might trigger such a downpour. I think I spent nearly a decade of my life doing just that. I can’t remember crying, really crying, between the ages of about 15 and 24. At 24 the catalyst that re-opened my tear ducts for real were the hormonal changes of pregnancy. All of a sudden I was crying all the time. Really crying. And I hated it. What happened to me, little by little, over the ten years that followed my emotional re-awakening, is that I figured out that most of the suffering I experienced through these “negative” emotions was caused by my resistance to them. I learned this on an intellectual level as I studied yoga philosophy and related wisdom traditions, but that type of knowledge only goes so far – we can know a great number of things intellectually that we have no idea how to put into practice. I also learned it on a subconscious intuitive level, which it turns out was much more practical. In the yoga sutras, patanjali describes aversion (dvesha) as being one of the five kleshas or causes of suffering. Perhaps you have heard the saying “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. This concisely points...

Look Ma, No Hands! Standing Sequence Audio Class

This is an intermediate level challenging yoga practice that puts no weight on the hands. This 25 minute standing pose sequence is good for wrist & shoulder injuries and also times when you are practicing someplace where you don’t want to touch the floor much. Your browser does not support the audio...
Why I go upside Down Every Day: 10 benefits to practicing yoga inversions

Why I go upside Down Every Day: 10 benefits to practicing yoga inversions

Even if I can’t do a full yoga practice, I try to get upside down every single day for at least a few minutes. An inversion practice can be as simple as a standing forward bend or legs up the wall or as complex as a scorpion handstand. Whatever your strength, energy level, and balance allow, put your heart above your head and reap the many benefits of inverting: Reverse the aging force of gravity Stimulate circulation & lower blood pressure Lower pressure on your spine to reduce neck and back pain Improve posture Strengthen Core Boot brain power & improve mental awareness Calm the mind & relieve stress Enhance relaxation and promote sounder sleep Improve digestion and elimination Elevate mood and combat depression If you’re ready to take your inversion practice to the next level, join me on Saturday June 29th for Inversions Demystified at The Asheville Yoga Center. Inversions Demystified is 2.5 hours of focused attention on the skills it takes to improve your inversions. Come as you are, I specialize in helping beginners and those with fear of inverting as well as more advanced practitioners find their next edge in their inversion...
Why You Should Befriend Your Shadow

Why You Should Befriend Your Shadow

Do you have a part of you that just creeps you out? An aspect to your personality that you’d rather nobody knew about – even yourself? Do you have a persistent dysfunctional pattern that you keep thinking you’re over – until it pops up again? Of course you do. We all do. And it’s often referred to as our “shadow”. Just like everyone’s body makes a dark reflection on a sunny day, all of us have a dark element to our selves. For most of us this is not news, but the idea that you should actually explore this element of your self might be. And it’s no surprise that our shadows tend to come out around the people we love & trust the most. The people we least want to hurt. The ones whose shadows are spilling out over us in return. In service to them and to ourselves, the icky sticky work of befriending our shadow is a worth endeavor. I’ve learned to recognize my own shadow by my desire to run away, hide my head, and look at anything else but that. In fact, I feel a resistance to even writing this post. But the problem with running away & pretending it doesn’t exist is that it doesn’t do any good. No matter how much we run, hide, or pretend, our shadow will catch up with us. In fact, it is unlikely to ever go away completely. So like it or not, our shadow side is a constant companion. Sometimes silent & unobtrusive, other times impossible to ignore, our shadow has the most hold over us...
Yoga for Back & Core Strength 25 min audio class

Yoga for Back & Core Strength 25 min audio class

This is a 25 minute intermediate level yoga practice focused on creating balanced strength and flexibility in the torso, specifically the abdominal and back muscles.  You do not need any props other than a yoga mat and optionally a blanket.  I’ve included plenty of clear instructions, but this audio class will be much easier if you attend my classes regularly and are familiar with the way I teach the poses. Videos and audio recordings should not take the place of in-person classes, but they can be a great supplement when classes aren’t possible.  This class is best for those who have a solid understanding of yoga poses and alignment and is not meant for beginners.  Please make sure you have the permission of your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Yoga for Back & Core Strength – 25 min Your browser does not support the audio element. or download...

Yoga for Back Care – Audio Class

This is the first of a series of audio downloads you can use to practice with me on days when you can’t make it to class.  This practice is approximately 20 minutes and you will want to have a blanket and either a yoga strap or some other sturdy long fabric or belt.  I’ve included plenty of clear instructions, but this audio class as well as future classes will be much easier if you attend my classes regularly and are familiar with the way I teach the poses. Videos and audio recordings should not take the place of in-person classes, but they can be a great supplement when classes aren’t possible.  This practice is not designed to relieve acute back injuries, but rather be a maintenance routine once you are out of pain.  Please make sure you have the permission of your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Enjoy! Yoga for Back Care – 20 minutes Your browser does not support the audio...
Is it better to give or to receive?

Is it better to give or to receive?

Solomon peed on me the very first time I changed his diaper. I took it as a sign of affection. I drove the hour plus to Spartanburg, SC to visit my friend Kristin and her new baby on a sunny Saturday afternoon with my 9 year old daughter. Just one week old, Solomon has it made. Adoring mom, doting dad, and two (much) older siblings very much in love. This baby is not neglected (understatement). When he’s not nursing, he is being cuddled by one of his other family members. Every time I tried to hold him my own daughter begged for a turn. Rarely does his adorable little butt get put down. I marveled at the softness of his skin and the floppy mobility of his little body. I smelled his head, brushed my lips over his cheek, and stroked his neck. What an incredible adaptation for such a tiny vulnerable being to become so adorable that every human in sight wants to not only protect, but practically worship him. A friend of mine once told me that we love babies and animals because they are such generous receivers. We usually think of generosity in terms of giving. But what if receiving is as much of a gift as giving is? Many of us have an unhealthy relationship with receiving; we think of it as being greedy or weak. When we see in those terms, we set up a power differential between giver and receiver. This causes us to either avoid receiving at all costs or accept the generosity of others at the cost of our own self...
One yoga pose to strengthen your upper body, core, legs, and well… everything

One yoga pose to strengthen your upper body, core, legs, and well… everything

Two variations of the same pose, plank (with straight arms) doesn’t have a commonly used Sanskrit equivalent and chaturanga (with elbows bent) doesn’t have an English one.  Chaturanga Dandasana means four-limbed staff pose and the implication that your body should be straight and strong applies to both variations.  Though plank and chaturanga are currently two of my favorite poses, we didn’t always get along so well.  I grew up one of those reedy slouching girls who looked as though a strong wind might knock them over (yes, I probably had a scowl to match).  My upper arms were the bane of my existence.  With zero awareness that a rather large sub-sect of the population would trade arms in a minute, I always lamented my lack of biceps and complained that my upper arms were barely larger than my forearms.  This body type is often associated with a total lack of awareness of the abdominal muscles and I was no exception. My first introduction to push ups (yes, basically these two poses together become a glorified push up) was when I started doing martial arts in college.  I couldn’t do a single one.  Not even on my knees.  Yet we did them every day in karate class, so I had to cheat by not going all the way down to the ground.  But with all that practice, I got stronger and stronger to the point that I can now do about 20 all the way down to the ground.   Over the course of the last decade and then some, I have learned to love push ups or at least their...
Yoga Question: What’s the best time of day to practice?

Yoga Question: What’s the best time of day to practice?

Q: I’ve heard that it’s best to practice yoga in the morning, is this true?  My mornings are so rushed I can’t imagine adding anything else to them, but I want to make sure that I’m getting the most from the time I do spend on my mat. A: One traditional way to practice yoga is during the Amrit Vela or time of ambrosia, just before dawn.  It is thought to be a powerful time for spiritual practice.  And there is something special about waking up early to do your rituals, whether you consider them to be spiritual practice or self-care.  In addition, when you practice yoga in the morning, then it is done and over with for the day, and you are less likely to get distracted or tired and skip yoga altogether. Doing your yoga practice at the same time every day is a great way to notice subtle differences day to day.  For most people, this also speaks in support of an early morning yoga practice.  Our morning rituals and habits tend to be more regular than any other time of day.  Plus practicing yoga in the morning allows you to start your day on the right foot and reap the benefits all day long. Another factor to take into consideration is that you will feel stiffer in the morning than later in the day.  If you are already flexible, than a morning practice will feel richer and more beneficial.  If you are dealing with chronically stiff muscles and joints, than a later day yoga practice will allow more ease and more enjoyment.  This is helpful because the more you enjoy your yoga...
3 mistakes smart people make when they do yoga

3 mistakes smart people make when they do yoga

Even smart people make mistakes that keep them from getting the most from their time in yoga class. Here are some mistakes that you might not have considered. Pass them on to your (smart) friends who are just starting out. #3. Attend the wrong class. “Well, I know it’s a level 3 Hot Vinyasa, but it fits in with my schedule and I can get my cardio out of the way while I’m at it.” As a recent article in the New York Times pointed out, yoga is not without risk. It’s an incredibly worthwhile practice, but it needs to be approached with respect. Many people take classes based on price, time, and location rather than the level and style of the class. This is understandable since smart people are busy and the names of classes can be confusing and even misleading. However attending the wrong class can sometimes be worse than doing no yoga at all. If you are out of shape and you start out with a class that leaves you feeling out of your league, you may give up entirely thinking that yoga is not for you and even worse you could injure yourself. However if you are an adrenaline junkie, starting out with a gentle beginner class may actually wind up working against you. If you don’t yet know how to slow down then the pace of the class may leave you bored and unmotivated to come back for more. If you have serious physical impairments, then spending time working with a skilled instructor one-on-one can give you the confidence to be able to modify...