Selfawakeningyogastudio's Blog

Yoga, Yoga, Yoga


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HOLDING ON TO A NOTION..

This morning I heard a Christmas song that truly took me waay back to Christmases past. Where I received my first talking doll…Chatty Cathy, made by Mattel. I have to share this interesting fact about how Chatty Cathy talked. As it turns out, even mute the dolls are worth $300 – $1,000+ in today’s market….such a girl ahead of my time, right??

Mattel based all of their talking dolls in the 1960s on a pull-string mechanism. Chatty Cathy’s mechanism was truly innovative–it allowed the doll to say a phrase completely at random when the string was pulled. The internal system consisted of a needle, small turntable, and record. Now that’s what I call innovation….in the 1960’s no less!

I can clearly see and feel the pull string in the back of her neck and hear her ask me to brush her hair, take her with me, ask for a cookie and tell me she loved me…I was in heaven! When my sisters (there are 6 of us in all) were being mean to me (and it seemed like they always were) I had my own Chatty Cathy who loved me! I literally could not believe that I had received her!!

As memorable as the gifts I received each year were, the traditions that were made with my Mom, Dad, 7 siblings and Grandfather were better. Funny thing about traditions – you don’t even know you are creating them until you look back on them and realize it was repeating the act year after year that created the tradition…or the notion of holding onto a previous time.

Here are some of my most memorable traditions for which I still hold on to. I am sure my siblings all have their own, but I think we will all agree (a rarity in our clan)…these were some of the best that have since evolved into wonderful, loving, and meaningful memories.

  • Like opening one Christmas gift every Christmas Eve from our great Aunt’s Helen and Elizabeth from Chicago…they seemed so metropolitan to me. It wasn’t so much the gift as that it was from these far away, exciting, Aunts who we knew better through memory and tradition than we did in person.
  • Our neighborhood had a tradition too – first house to plug the Christmas Tree lights in(sort of like the early bird gets the worm concept)…we didn’t win anything….except bragging rights which were very important, but again, all about the tradition. Still so vivid all these years later.
  • Creating our wish list from the Sears Catalog….is there still a Sears Catalog?? LOVED sitting with my 5 sisters looking over this GIANT catalog filled with opportunity and promise. As I look back, it was the searching, selecting, and consulting that I loved…almost as much as the gifts themselves.
  •  Stringing popcorn on thread to decorate the tree – some of which was a bit sparse from eating the popcorn, but so much fun…aside from the tiny needle pricks and little round band aids on the tips of our fingers :)
  • Singing along with Mitch Miller and LOVING the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause”…I never get tired of that song and bust out in the biggest smile you can imagine when I hear it.
  • Christmas Church Fairs. So many items for so little $$.
  • Riding the public bus from Windham NH to Lawrence MA without our parents…when times were simpler and life seemed safer. This was a BIG adventure and we literally shopped until we dropped.
  • Mid-night Mass at St. Matthew’s Church…not sure I can tell you much about the service, but it was such a cool and grown up thing to do!
  • The plastic Christmas Manger that our dad put up every year. I loved that manger more and more each and every year…or as I realized years later – the tradition of putting up with him; everybody taking a corner, making sure it was straight; hot coca after…sigh!

As we all grew and married we started our own traditions with our spouses and children…some of them traditions carried on from our childhood and others that became traditions over the years. Now many of us have grandchildren and have even newer traditions….some still in play, others replaced.

Here are some of my favorite, grown-up, modern traditions …not as many as with my siblings yet… but they haven’t been around as long either.

  • Letting the grandkids open one Christmas Present on Christmas Eve. Handed down from me to my kids to the grandkids…ahhh….tradition!
  • Letting the grandkids decorate the tree – their way – and not changing or fixing it – no matter how lopsided the ornaments are. There are 8 or so specific ornaments that must be played with before they go on the tree….no matter how old the kids get, they always play with the same ones year after year and reluctantly put them on the tree before they leave.
  • Setting up the advent calendar – where they want it and watching them dash in the door when they visit to take the days that have passed off. We have had the same advent calendar for them since Christmas 2004 and they still, at ages 13+ and closing in on 12, enjoy it! My kids had one too, but they got to take each day off as it passed. Ahhh….tradition.
  • The small, inside manger…perhaps a tradition from days past? This one belongs to my granddaughter and she will not let it go. She has been taking this manger out of the box, and playing with it for hours, before she decides on just the right spot to assemble it, since 2006.
  • The annual Hess Truck sets. Been buying these for all 5 grandkids for the past 3 – 4 years and they still love them…although the 2 eldest are “so over them” (they are caught playing with them when they think nobody is looking) – the 3 youngest are still loving them.
  • Christmas Eve at eldest son’s house – putting out milk/cookies for Santa, staying to help wrap and assemble gifts…the love and pride of watching him with his family – pure joy. A new tradition has taken its place, but these memories are in the vault!
  • Family Christmas dinner at our house – used to be traditional Turkey dinner, but this will be our 2nd year serving Crown Roast – a new tradition in the making??
  • Toasting to my dad who will be missing his 19th Christmas with his beloved family this year.

And more,more,more! Plus more news ones to begin – truth be told, I was very resistant to changing traditions and for good reason – they meant so much to me and I thought letting go meant letting go of the memory… but I have come to realize that my traditions and memories are just that….mine and I have to warm up to the new possibilities…..sort of :)

BUT the ones I have will stay buried deep in my mind, in my heart and in my soul for eternity !

Merry Christmas To All and To All A Good _____________fill in the blank.

Much love, lightness, peace and warmth,

Barbara


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I COULD NOT HAVE SAID THIS BETTER MYSELF

I took the liberty of re-posting this post from Leo Babauta, profound write and life observer at http://zenhabits.net/sit/.

It particularly resonates with me right now as I work hard to balance my life that consists of 14 hours days and the holiday season.

In fact, as I write/share this blog, I am sitting at the check in desk at my yoga studio while a beautiful class is being taught by the oh so talented Lois Parker Carmona and I am thinking, “I should be taking the class”.  But alas, I first had to stop at the bank, the post office and Home Depot for studio supplies.

And so…here I sit, checking another task off my list…posting to my blog…but listening closer to Lois’s verbal cues, breathing deeper and catching some peace from her students who look absolutely beautiful on their mats during this 8:00 am All Level Vinyasa Flow Class.  So beautiful are they that I have just decided to stay and take Lois’s next class!  Thank you Leo!!

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Have you ever felt that we are rushing through life, that we get so caught
up in busy-ness that life is passing us almost without notice?

I get this feeling all the time.

The antidote is simple: sitting and watching.

Take a minute out of your busy day to sit with me, and talk. Take a moment
to imagine being in the middle of traffic  youre driving, stressed out by
the high amount of traffic, trying to get somewhere before youre late,
angry at other drivers who are rude or idiotic, completely focused on
making your way through this jungle of metal on a ribbon of asphalt. Now
youve gotten to the end, phew, you made it, wonderful, and youre only a few
minutes late  but did you notice the scenery you passed along the way? Did
you talk to any of the other people along your path? Did you enjoy the ride?

No, probably not. You were so caught up in getting there, in the details of
navigating, in the stress of driving, that you didnt have time to notice
your surroundings, the people nearby, or the wonderful journey. This is how
we are in life.

Now imagine that you pulled over, and got out of the car, and found a
grassy spot to sit. And you watched the other cars zoom by. And you watched
the grass blown gently by the wind, and the birds making a flocking pattern
overhead, and the clouds lazily watching you back.

Sit and watch.

We dont do this, because its useless to do something that isnt productive,
that doesnt improve our lives. But as Alan Watts wrote in The Way of Zen:

As muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone, it could be argued that
those who sit quietly and do nothing are making one of the best possible
contributions to a world in turmoil.

Its interesting, too, what we see when we sit and watch. We will notice
others rushing, and worried, and angry, and in them see a mirror of
ourselves. We will notice children laughing (or crying) with their parents,
and remember what were missing when we rush to improve our lives.

More interesting is what you see when you sit and watch yourself. You learn
to step outside yourself, and act as an observer. You see your thoughts,
and learn more about yourself than you ever could if you were rushing to
take action. You see your self-doubts, and self-criticism, and wonder where
they came from (a bad incident in childhood, perhaps?) and wonder if you
are smart enough to let them go. You see your rationalizations, and realize
that they are bullshit, and learn to let those go too. You see your fears,
and realize what hold they have over you, and realize that you can make
them powerless, by just sitting and watching them, not taking action on
them.

By sitting and watching, you come to know yourself.

You learn the most valuable lessons about life, by sitting and watching.

And as we know from the observer effect in physics, by watching, we change
what we watch.

Take a few minutes today, to sit and watch. It might change your life.

Stop and Live Your Life


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WHAT DOES SERVICE MEAN TO YOU?

Read this timely passage, by the talented Melody Beattie, to my yoga class today and thought I would share it with you.  It really does support what I have been saying about making sure you carve out time on your mat during the holiday season.  More time for you, means stronger quality for those who want to spend time with you.

WHAT DOES SERVICE MEAN TO YOU?

For a long time, service meant drudgery, something grim and tiresome to me. Having to say yes all of the time, even when I wanted to say no. Doing a lot of things I didn’t want to do because someone asked me to.  Doing an act of service even if I wasn’t asked. Solving any problem, filling any need I saw any time, anywhere.

But much of the time, what I did didn’t help others or me.  Usually I felt angry, resentful, tired, and unappreciated. After years of living this way, I started avoiding people so I could avoid the responsibility of having to solve their problems.  I shied away from people. I shied away from service.

Before I was able to return to service, I needed to change my definition of it.  Service isn’t something we do, it’s a way of life.  Service is what our lives are when we’re loving ourselves.

Now, to me service means that we take our place in the universe naturally and easily.  We listen to our hearts, trusting the guidance about what we want to do, what feels right for us.  We listen when our hearts say no, too.

We love ourselves.  We do what we’re led to do.  We do what we enjoy and have a passion for doing. That’s service.  We enjoy life.  We open our hearts to the people around us. We laugh openly, we cry openly, we let ourselves be who we are.  That’s service.  When a task or job arises that it’s our job to do, one that feels right and appropriate for us, we do it –in joy and love. That’s service.  We allow ourselves to be in the present moment, realizing the value of work and of giving.  Then we take it one step further.  We allow ourselves to have fun and enjoy what we’re doing while we’re doing it. That’s service.

If a task seems too grim to bear, if we can’t find the reserves or resolve to accomplish it, if no way to do it opens up we quietly say no.  We have not failed.  We have succeeded at listening to our hearts.  We have succeeded at true service.

We give of ourselves, our resources, our love.  We give of our time and our smiles and our joy in those places and with those people who feel right to us.  We don’t worry about what we’re going to get back while we’re giving.  We focus on the giving because we’re doing something we want to do.

 


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COMBAT HOLIDAY STRESS!!

Do yoga!  Yep…you heard me.

The first thing we give up when time constraint rears its ugly head is time for ourselves.  Am I right?  You know I am.

But does anybody really benefit from our self-sacrifice?

I know, in the long run, that nobody in my circle, including myself does.  Why?  Because I am tired, grumpy, stressed, unhappy and…drum roll please….resentful toward those I am giving my time up for!

So what’s the point??  I think, especially for us women, it has to do with what I affectionately call the “Martyr Meter”…..and the higher the meter, the larger the sacrifice, the bigger the bragging rights. Bragging, complaining, venting, whining…call it what you may, it comes free with the Martyr Meter, but in the long run, nobody really benefits.

BUT practice on your mat, at home or in the studio, every day during the holiday season and find the peace, balance, and love of others that feels SO MUCH BETTER than sacrificing, bragging, complaining….you get the picture right?

Time for YOU means you are way more likely have an enhanced, quality experience with those you want to please and they don’t have to listen to our….venting, or see our scrunched up faces, or deeper lines between the eyebrows.  In fact, the more time we make for ourselves, the more accessible we are to others.  And it shows, believe me!

Food for thought, huh?

WITH Yoga

Without Yoga!


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WHY NOW?

When I contacted Groupon.com to initiate 2 great deals for my yoga studio, they asked if I would rather wait until the first of the New Year for the “tip-off”.  When I asked why that seemed like a more sound sales/marketing strategy they replied, “Nobody takes the time to go to yoga during the holiday season because they are too stressed out.”

I mulled their advice over…after all…. they are the experts in their field and I am sure they have received significant feedback from other studios who have shared their low attendance experience at this time of year.  Sounded like a sensible business decision all in all, BUT I wasn’t feeling sensible and bucked tradition by sticking with my original plan.  Tip off mid November and run the deal(s) for 6 months….covers the holiday season, passes into the new year, hits spring and touches the tip of summer.  A wide net in my opinion.

Plus…what better time for yoga then during the stressful holiday season?  What a great tool to help cope with the hustle and bustle of more traffic, longer lines, wrapping, deciding what to buy, spending money you don’t have…..I could go on and on, right?      Inevitably, your already crammed schedule is filled with work parties, family, travelling, participating in gift exchanges, baking, decorating, shopping, donating your time to help others, and everything that comes during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

So I have been planting the seed of a wonderful and healthy gift to ones self…YOGA!  I know from personal experience that my community and those around them will be much better off when they make the commitment to carve 60 – 75 minutes to themselves.  Actually putting yoga on your schedule as an appointment because  you are as important as your family, friends, co-workers, community, and everyone else who you work hard to please at this time of the year.  Yoga is certain to give you the energy and the serenity to go about your day with inner peace, achieving the things that need to get done without allowing the stress to win.

Where ever and whenever you can, go to a yoga class.  There will be more of YOU to go around during the holiday season.

I can feel the peace and serenity calling me NOW.

Yoga Elf (this is not me:)))

Tap into the breath and energy of others...leave yours for those to come.


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NOT TO STEAL THE PHRASE…BUT LIFE IS GOOD

It is Friday night sleepover with our two eldest grandchildren;  Isabela, 13  and Gannon, 11 3/4.  We love sleepover weekend.

It is usually every other Friday night and it has been going on since they were 2 and less than a year old.  We used to have an early dinner, bath time, a movie (pretty much every Disney movie every made) and to bed by 9.  Always snuggled 2 to a couch and carried each kid up to their bed because they hardly ever made it to the end of the movie. They woke up Saturday morning bright and early and we would share a day filled with free time together.

Boy….have they grown and have things changed!

Dinner is usually closer to 7:30 or so because they are involved in a computer game, reading a book, or watching a sitcom they have watched so often they can recite every sentence! No time for baths…may squeeze in a shower or wait until Saturday morning. And no Disney movies…unless they are feeling nostalgic…which doesn’t happen often enough for our taste.  Now we purchase movies ON DEMAND…in fact tonight we are watching the final Harry Potter movie.  Sometimes it’s a Twilight marathon.  OR if we can’t agree on a movie (we ALWAYS used to agree on a the Friday night movie when they were little) they each have a TV, DVD player and ON DEMAND in their bedroom(s), so often we are watching movies in different rooms.

Snuggling 2 to a couch?  No way! They are so big we can’t fit side by side anymore.  We can barely fit head to feet. I am sad to say that our snuggling days have come and gone.

Carrying them up because they didn’t make it till the end of the movie?  Forget about it!  First of all, Gramma and Grampa barely make it to the end of the movie and on the rare occasions we do have to carry them up….well…we can’t because they are just too big!  In fact, they would have a better chance of carrying us up!!

And getting to bed by 9?  That was SO 5 years ago!  We all go up together at 10 or 11, but they go to their bedroom(s) and watch more TV and we go to sleep!!  Thank goodness for auto timers on the new TV’s…we just have them set the time for 90 to 120 minutes and we go down the hall to our bedroom, read for a few minutes and pass out.

And now Saturday’s start at 10 or so…when they wake up.  Unless they have a sporting event…then we are up early and driving local or far away….sometime same time, different events. And we get home late in the afternoon…they go their way, we go ours.

But I have to say….we still love our Friday night sleepovers deeply and look forward to them with enthusiasm and excitement.  In fact, they are so weaved into the fabric of our lives that we dread knowing they will  come to an end…and they will.  Just like when their dad and Uncle grew and left the nest..we will have a moment in time where we will be forced to figure out what to do with our every other Friday night/Saturday. And we survived.

But until then, we will continue to be thankful for every Friday they still want to come and hang with Gram and Gramps.

Ahhh….life is SO good!

Back in the day!

A little gray around the edges,but..still having fun!


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AND THE TEACHER BECOMES THE STUDENT

I had every intention of offering a  moderate vinyasa flow class to the 8 young men that I teach to on Wednesday and Friday evenings tonight.

I had worked the sequence out in my head at 2 am when I couldn’t get back to sleep, sketched it out at work, and practiced it aloud during the drive to class. The guys had asked for one active class and one guided meditation class per week. I was happy to oblige and figured Wednesday would be the active class and Friday would be the guided meditation class.

So I got changed and entered the room to 8 enthusiastic guys…sitting on their mats, chatting, laughing, waiting to get started.  Sounds like just the right recipe for an active yoga class right?  Ummm….not really.

It’s hard to explain, but something about the energy and body language presented a different story to me.  My observation was they needed 180 of what my plan was. The signal…obvious only to me was…”We are in need of guided meditation tonight”. Ooookkkaayyy….about face, toss the plan aside, wipe the slate clean and turn out the lights.

And so went our class for this Wednesday night.  Lights outs, flat on our backs, totally relaxed and tapping into the center of our beings. At first 1/2 of them had a hard time finding stillness….wiggling, turning, yawning, fretting and doubting. But before long all 8 tapped into their breath and found peace and stillness.  And they stayed that way for 15 minutes! Exploring, inquiring, learning…simply how to “be”.

I continue to be amazed at how much I learn  from my students – certainly  more than I am able to teach.  And I definitely learn more than books can offer. More times than not, the greatest teachers are the students in my class.  This was a perfect example of all that yoga has helped me to become. A student first, a teacher second.

Along side of these brave young men, I stepped into my peaceful space and breathed fresh life into a body that had allowed itself to be influenced by the stress of my week.

Thank you guys for being my teacher tonight.

Namaste’

I breathe in....I breathe out...

 

 

 

 

 

 


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BOOhumbug!

New England had an early surprise snow storm on Saturday, October 29th that dumped a foot plus of snow and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.  The power outages lasted  from several hours to 6 or more days.

One of those days was Halloween and most of the NH towns affected by the power outages rescheduled the holiday. Some towns had it as scheduled on Monday night, some picked Saturday night and others picked Sunday night – the following week…after the clocks had been turned back…when it was really, really, dark outside. And cold.  On Sunday from 5 – 8. During football, Sunday dinner and that wonderful time spent before the new work week starts.  And, a school night!

Me?  I would have called it off. You heard me…BOOhumbug!! I mean, we aren’t talking Christmas….or Thanksgiving….or even somebody’s birthday party.  It’s just Halloween for crying out loud. Where parents spend money on costumes and candy and people’s home are invaded by kids begging for candy with an implied threat of  “tricks” if the don’t get “treats”.  Really??? “Give me candy or I will…egg your house…..toilet paper your house….or worse.  In fact President Obama was worried about the White House getting egged because the First Lady wanted to give out healthy snacks.  And while the Prez was just kidding (at least I assumed he was) the implication says it all.

Here’s a brief description of Halloween’s origins taken from http://www.pitara.com/discover/5wh/online.asp?story=62.

In 834 A.D., Pope Gregory III shifted the festival of All Saints Day, then celebrated on May 13 to November 1. The new day was called All Saints Day or Hallowmas. Thus, the evening and night before it became All Hallow’s eve and later Halloween.

The Celtic concept of ghosts and witches became blended with Roman and later Christian customs. In Ireland and Britain, Halloween was also celebrated as Mischief Night when villagers were allowed to play pranks on each other.

Traces of the Roman Pomona festival such as ducking for apples in a tub of water still survive. Another is the use of hollowed-out pumpkins lit by candles in the belief that it would ward off evil spirits.

Today, Halloween is a festival of fun for kids. An occasion to dress up as little monsters, ghosts or witches. Over time the custom of adults dressing up as demons changed and the children took over. As they went from house to house they would knock at each house and cry “trick or treat”. People would then give the children apples or buns and later candy to keep from being tricked.

However, since the 1960s, various crimes have been committed during Halloween. There have been cases of candy laced with drugs.

Other incidents such as older children attacking younger children to steal their candy, or children finding razor blades or pieces of glass in their treats have also been reported. Increasingly parents and local police and administrative officials issue safety tips for children when they go trick or treating.

Is it me, or does it just not seem a worthwhile holiday? Halloween eve, I opened my front door and discovered a candy filled bag filled with a hand written note that said you’ve been “BOOed” and those light sticks that prevent kids from getting run down by all the cars driving their kids from house to house.

My initial reaction was hmm…that’s nice..that is until my husband and grown son with 2 children yelled “Step away from the bag!”  “You have no idea where it came from or if it is poisoned or laced with drugs, razor blades etc”.  To which I replied, “Darn…and I was about to give it to the kids and enjoy a piece myself”. Sad, isn’t it?

Which is my point… we make a big deal out of this holiday and spend tons of money and we are not even sure if the candy we get/give is safe. And yet when Mother Nature gave us the opportunity to cancel it….we went out of our way to make it happen anyway.

We actually had kids come to my house who didn’t even bother putting on costumes.  They just rang the bell, said trick or treat and held up their pillow cases.  Good thing hubby was passing candy out because I would not have been able to force myself to give teenagers candy just because they came begging on a night where it is sanctioned!

What do you think?  Am I a Halloween Scrooge??

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