Browsing articles from "August, 2011"

Tea time…

Aug 31, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food, tea  //  No Comments

Anybody that knows me knows that I am not a coffee drinker. I’ve never been a fan of the taste; and despite having the occasional mocha latte, I usually stay away from any type of coffee or espresso. However, I can almost always be found carrying a cup of tea – no matter what time of year – and one of the cabinets in my office at work is filled with a variety of teas so I can fulfill almost any craving. And I’m always looking for new teas to try. This morning I decided to try two new teas, one that was recommended to me, the other that I selected on a whim because it looked good.

Numi Velvet Garden White Rose – a blend of Fair Trade Certified organic White Tea and organic Rose Buds

I have to say this is probably going to become one of my new go to teas. For as much as I love black tea, in the last couple years, I have taken a liking to white tea. It has a lighter flavor and the least amount of caffeine of all tea varieties (on average 15 mg for white, 25 mg for green, and 47-60 for black tea). Just don’t steep it too long, over-steeping causes bitterness in the tea. Given that I am prone to anxiety, the less caffeine that I drink the better. And I have always loved flowery teas – rose, hibiscus, dandelion. I just love the taste. This tea is the perfect combination of flavors, I love the blend of the white tea and rose buds. It’s light, aromatic, and soothing. The hint of caffeine is also a nice pick-me-up at the end of a long morning or in the middle of the afternoon. I do not have a stockpile of this tea yet, but I expect that after my next visit to the grocery store, I will.

Teekanne Herbal Wellness Tea – Energizing in Raspberry Refresh – a blend of hibiscus, blackberry leaves, rosehips, raspberry leaf, spearmint, lemongrass, Siberian ginseng, red clover, and natural raspberry flavor

Okay, so I’m not so fond of the “natural raspberry flavor” that is in the ingredient list, but I do have to say, this tea does taste delicious and carries on the theme of my love for flowery teas. This one is a fruity, flowery tea and completely herbal. It’s a good pick me up too. It’s actually a little tart, I’m not sure if that comes from the natural flavor or the blackberry and raspberry leaves, but it’s good and I love the tartness. I wasn’t looking for a sweet tasting tea and the tartness of this really hit the spot. It’s a great alternative to caffeinated tea, especially for days when I’m already a little bit stressed out. Caffeine adds to the anxiety, while this just provides a nice hot flavorful beverage. I’ve got a stock of this in my cabinet already and think I probably will keep it that way for a while.

I love having tea time and love trying new teas. These are two teas that I definitely enjoy for very similar and different reasons. I look forward to continuing to try new teas and reporting back periodically on how I like them.

Are there any tea varieties that you love that you think I should try? Do you prefer loose leaf varieties or tea pouches?

The Versatile Blogger Award

Aug 30, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, Uncategorized, writing  //  4 Comments

Receiving awards is always fun. My yogini friend, Christine, from my 200 hour yoga teacher training recently awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Being me, I did a little digging trying to figure out who thought of this award and when it was first given out. The origin of the award is very much a mystery, but at its heart, is the desire to help your blog readers learn more about you and to recognize and share recently discovered blogs.

My friend Christine - YogaTwistOnLife (photo credit: Gleam Photography)

Christine and I met during our level 1 teacher training (the first 33 hours of the 200 hour certification). Christine started her blog at the beginning of our teacher training journey and is now a very much seasoned blogger. It’s been fun watching her blog evolve from a journal about our teacher training experiences to a forum for sharing insights on her travels and hobbies, and tidbits about the practice and teaching of yoga. I’m honored that Christine awarded me with this award and I’m happy to pass it on to others who are just as deserving.

Here are the Official Rules of the Award.

  1. Thank the award-giver(s) and link back to them in your post.
  2. Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.
  3. Give this award to up to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers.
  4. Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news.

Seven things about me (that you won’t learn from the “about lisa” page on my website)…

  1. I’m a certified public accountant, licensed in four jurisdictions – the Commonwealth of Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the states of Maryland and New York. I have four active licenses because when I worked in public accounting, I had to have a license in the state of my home office and the jurisdictions that my audit clients were located in.
  2. I was my sister’s maid of honor. I’ll never forget receiving the call from my sister, while I was on vacation in the Bahamas that she and my brother-in-law got engaged. I was so excited for her. And three days later, she asked me to be her maid of honor, which of course I said yes to. I have always been happy that I was able to be part of my sister’s special day. It’s a day that I don’t think I will ever forget.
  3. I love olives – any kind: regular, oil-cured, kalamata, manzanilla, etc. You name them, and I eat them. Growing up (and who are we kidding, not much has changed), I could make meals out of olives. My dad would put out a bowl for guests and I would be told to wait until the guests arrived. When I was a kid, my grandfather taught me to put regular black olives on my finger tips and then to eat them off of my fingertips. So, I love olives. And yes, I love olive oil, too, for cooking and dipping bread into.
  4. I’m a pescatarian. Despite the fact that I eat vegetarian the majority of the time and also enjoy some vegan meals, when I made the decision to eat vegetarian, I didn’t want to give up fish. I found that it was really red meats, poultry, and pork that would make me feel sluggish after eating them. Fish didn’t have the same effect, and so, I didn’t stop eating it. I also happen to be a lover of sushi. Now all that being said, I mostly eat vegetarian and only have fish once or twice a month (and usually in some kind of sushi style preparation).
  5. I’m a brother… at least that’s what I am in my professional business fraternity, we are all brothers there. My fraternity was founded in 1904 as an all men’s business fraternity. In 1976, after Title IX became law, the fraternity voted to allow women to join, making Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed professional business fraternity. Although the issue of what to call women has been a recurring topic at our biennial Chapter Congress meeting, women continue to be called “brothers”. This is part of the tradition and I’m in support of that tradition never changing.
  6. I ran cross country my sophomore year of high school. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a runner, and so, after ankle surgery the summer of 1993, I decided that I would give running a try and joined the cross-country team. I ran that fall and then decided to give track a try the following spring. I determined that running wasn’t my thing and went back to the dance studio to take more tap lessons.
  7. I’ve had two surprise birthday parties thrown for me – for my 20th and 30th birthdays. Both were thrown by my family and friends and I was clueless about both. Who knows what exciting things will be planned for my 40th birthday, but there’s no need to start considering that for another 6 years.

I think that ‘s probably more than just 7 things about me, since I can’t just write a list, I have to have commentary on each one. I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about me. And now the real exciting part, passing the honor along to others, so without further ado, the Versatile Blogger award goes to:

  • Virya Vinyasa by Jes Hrivnak, the journey of how a type A personality learns to love Bakasana face-plants
  • The Vegan Season by Lindsay Boyd, a blog all about vegan eating
  • Adventures in Vegetarianism by Miriam Miller, a blog about the exploration of vegetarian cooking – from kitchen to restaurants in DC and around the country

For other blogs that I like and that inspire me, check out the Yoga Resources page on my website.

Knitting up a storm

Aug 28, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, Yoga  //  No Comments

my size 19 bamboo knitting needles from ChiaoGoo

I learned how to knit when I was about 10 years old from my mother’s mother, my grandmother. For as long as I can remember, she would always have a pair of knitting needles or a crochet hook and yarn with her almost everywhere she went. I have several afghans that she knitted or crocheted over the years. And at 89, you will continue to find her crocheting – mostly baby blankets for my nephews. I didn’t do much with knitting after the summer that she taught me, but I did remember bits and pieces of what she told me.

In 2009, I had a desire to pick up knitting again. I bought a “teach yourself how to knit” kit, some yarn, and a few extra needles to get started. That year, I completed one project and started one, which was put down shortly after starting it. Whatever I thought knitting would do for me, it wasn’t doing, so I just stopped. In 2010, while I was preparing to go up to NJ for the holidays, I decided that I might as well bring my knitting stuff with me. Afterall, I would be in NJ for a week, staying at my condo alone. And when I wasn’t visiting with family and friends, I would need something to do, that did not involve eating, shopping, or watching TV. It turned out to be a very smart decision.

While I was visiting New Jersey over Christmas, a blizzard (or near blizzard) decided to come for a visit dumping 5 to 6 feet of snow on us. Needless to say, I was condo-bound for a couple days and needed something to do – that wasn’t eating or watching TV, and reading wasn’t on the top of my to do list. It was the perfect opportunity for me to try knitting again. I found my knitting groove that week. I managed to finish 1 unfinished project and complete 2 short scarves from start to finish. When I was no longer condo-bound, I went out and bought a bunch more yarn to bring back to DC with me.

I got back to DC and the year of the scarf started. I decided that many of the important women in my life would be getting a handmade scarf in 2011. In general, I’ve always felt that there are few things better than receiving a handmade gift.  You can visually see and emotionally feel the thought that went into the gift. A handmade gift may not cost a lot of money, but in my years of giving handmade gifts know, they generally take a lot of time. The giving of time to make the gift is what makes it difficult to put a price on a handmade gift and makes it so special. The year of the scarf started by making scarves for my mother and sister for their birthdays. They were the first 3 scarves that I made in 2011.  I had a lot of fun making the scarves and the act of knitting was very calming and relaxing. Seeing how much my mom and sister liked the scarves when I gifted them cemented why I wanted to keep making and giving them away.

Lion Brand Yarn (clockwise from top left): Fun Fur Orchid, Fun Fur Prints Tropical, Homespun 329 Waterfall

A few weeks into the new year, I started my yoga teacher training and I was the knitting yogini. Training was held almost every weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from February through mid-April. And I would bring my knitting with me to the yoga studio. It was almost guaranteed that you could find me in the yoga studio’s tea lounge for almost an hour every morning of training – knitting. And during the week between training weekends, I would pull out my knitting to help me relax. Over the course of my 200 hr certification, I completed 13 scarves and 2 wraps.  I found that I would get lost in my knitting. It was like sitting in meditation.

I’m still only at a point where I knit and pearl – so I make many scarves or wraps that I can do with either a stockinette or a garter stitch, and garter tends to be my favorite. I find it to be the most relaxing and meditative, since I can get lost in the repetition of the movement and I don’t have to think about changing the stitch. It’s the same reason why I haven’t ventured into patterned pieces or shapes yet.  (One of these days, I’ll try to make a pair of sock slippers. When I do, you can expect that it will find it’s way here.) The repetition allows me to become aware of where I am, aware of my breath, and aware of my thoughts. It’s not quite the same as sitting down for samatha meditation, but still requires finding a comfortable seat and physically stilling the body.

I started a new project – another wrap – after teacher training over Easter weekend. Without teacher training, it took me much longer to finish the project – picking it up and putting it down many times over the last 4 months. Although the need for the meditative benefit still exists, I have not made the time to pick up my knitting needles. However, it seems like kickstarting my knitting goes hand in hand with severe weather conditions. Due to Hurricane Irene passing through the DC area, all of my weekend plans were cancelled or postponed until later in the weekend (Saturday to Sunday) or to later in the fall and I all of a sudden had a completely free weekend to do whatever I wanted. Spending the early morning hours blogging about passions colliding and catching up with a friend over breakfast, I spent the afternoon and evening hours, knitting up a storm.

pattern of finished wrap (used size 19 knitting needles; see below for instructions)

made a cuff with the yarn i had leftover (used my size 17 knitting needles for this)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rainy Saturday was the perfect weather to help bring awareness and calm back to my mind and my body. I finished the wrap, which I really do love, and made a cute wrist-cuff with the leftover yarn. (I’m hoping I have enough of the three yarns left to make a second cuff for a pair or possibly make a muff. I think they’ll be fun in the fall or winter.) This morning the rain continues, but is expected to stop in a few hours. After breakfast and maybe a nap, I plan to pick up another unfinished project and continue knitting up a storm.

How did you ride out the storm? What did you do while being stuck inside the house all day?

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Instructions for Wrap (modified from a 2-hr shawl pattern I found on Lion Brand’s website)

Materials: 3 skeins each of Lion Brand Fun Fur Orchid and Lion Brand Fun Fur Prints Tropical; 1 skein Lion Brand Homespun 329 Waterfall (if this color scheme doesn’t suit you, select complimentary yarn shades using the same ratios: 1 Homespun yarn and 3 each of 2 different Fun Fur yarns)

Knitting needles: size 19 for wrap

Instructions: Pull yarn together from each of the three yarns to create one thread. Cast on 20-22 stitches based on desired width. Knit each row until wrap reaches between 68 and 72 inches long. Bind off after reaching the desired length.

To make the cuff, I followed the same approach, using size 17 needles and casting on 7 stitches. I then knitted each row until I reached the desired length to fit around my wrist and bound off the project. I used a plastic needle and the ends of the yarn to sew the two ends together to create the cuff. I think that 16 to 18 stitches and the size 17 needles would have resulted in a cute muff. I may be trying to make one of those later today. Happy Knitting!

When passions collide…

Aug 27, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, photography, Uncategorized, Yoga  //  3 Comments

Jes & Me - instagram-like effect using elements (thank you to the tourist who offered to snap the photo)

It’s no secret that I’m very passionate about yoga. There was that one day that I came to my mat and something clicked. I found so much more than just a way to exercise. In the last 8 months, I deepened my practice by attending teacher training at my yoga home and became a yoga teacher. Now, I get to share my passion for yoga on a weekly basis with yogis in the Tranquil Space community.

Yoga isn’t my only passion, though. I also have a passion for photography. About 5 years ago, I invested in a digital single-lens reflex (“dSLR”) camera. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the world around me, whatever microcosm I’m in, and seeing something interesting and capturing it. The investment in the dSLR was to take my photography to another level and prompted me to take workshops around DC, online courses, and buy books that taught me how to (1) use the camera and (2) different techniques for capturing images. For about a year, I went out almost every weekend and found images to capture. I always had the most fun finding creative close-ups. I also bought editing software and took online courses to learn how to use it. Then, work and life got busy and I put my camera down for a while (a good 2 1/2 years). About a year ago, I made an effort to rekindle this passion and this summer, I did that when I took a DC PhotoTour. (Check out my photos page for images from the DC PhotoTour.)

protecting my gear from passing thunderstorms (so of course, we got none)

As I worked to build my website, I realized, I wanted images of me in various yoga postures to put on the website. And so over the last few months, I’ve been working on amassing a collection. And I’ve been lucky to have friends, who have taken the pictures for me. One thing that I didn’t have though were images of me in yoga postures down by some of the iconic monuments in Washington, DC. Well, yesterday, my friend, Jes, and I had our first attempt in getting some of those images. Jes and I both love photography and we both love yoga. Jes is actually getting ready to begin her journey towards the 200 hr yoga teacher certification right now. And last night, in the calm before the storm, we went down to the National Mall, dressed in some of our favorite yoga attire, armed with our cameras, and had some fun.

Jes and I both have a creative eye for composition and we each gravitate to our favorite ways to compose. We played with close-ups, taking pictures on angles, different locations, and different postures, learning each step of the way, what worked, what didn’t work, and what we’d like to try again in a different outfit. We even stumbled upon one of the best spots (in my opinion) to photograph the Washington Monument. Here are some of the results:

Me in Camatkarasana (Wild Thing) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

Up close in Chaturanga Dandasana (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in opening her heart Virabhadrasana I (warrior I)

Me in Garudasana (Eagle) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Garudasana (Eagle)

Me in Chaturanga Dandasana (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)

Me in reverse Virabhadrasana (reverse warrior) (photo credit: Jes Hrivnak)

Jes in Camatkarasana (Wild Thing)

Jes & Me - the self-portrait

After our playtime outside, we hung out for a while (starting with a grocery store run to prepare for the impending storm) ate dinner, had some delicious herbal tea, shared photos, edited photos, and chatted. Plans are in the works for another yoga photoshoot, so-to-speak. There are many more places in DC and specifically around the iconic monuments and memorials that we want to take pictures. It was definitely lots of fun and a really nice way for two of my passions to collide.

What are your passions? Do you ever bring two of your passions together?

did you make your bed today?

Aug 25, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care  //  No Comments

My bed... made at 6:25 AM this morning.

“Did you make your bed today?” For as long as I can remember, that’s what my mother would ask me every morning before  school. And up until about 5 months ago, I actually didn’t understand what was so important about making my bed. And moreover, how important making my bed was to me. Growing up, the bed was made every day, because my mother made me. In college and for many years post college, I used to only make my bed when I was having people over. I didn’t really see a point, when I would be out all day and crawl back in at night. But when you have guest, having a made bed makes the apartment feel homier and more so, gives a tidier appearance. It’s funny though, the daily bed making routine didn’t actually start until I had a cleaning service come to my apartment.

I got a great deal through LivingSocial for Green MaidWorks, who happens to charge extra to change the bed linens and make the bed, so I wanted to make sure that I did those chores myself before they arrived. My apartment was spotless when the service left that day (and I’m starting regular monthly service in September). I felt so relaxed as I looked around the apartment. My apartment looked cleaner than it did the day I moved in (and on move in day, it had looked spotless).

So what’s the significance of making the bed for me? It provides me with some order in an otherwise chaotic environment. It’s very grounding and rather refreshing when you come home to a made bed. The bed is generally the second thing I see after I walk into my apartment. Having it made makes me feel grounded and relaxed. On a subconscious level, I think I’ve been feeling a sense of accomplishment from it. Thinking that at least, I’ve done that, if I haven’t done anything else around the apartment. It’s also a feeling of being back “at home”.

Cleaning and laundry are not and have never been my favorite things to do, laundry generally waits until it has to be done and cleaning, well, cleaning is done when I absolutely have to. I will “clean” for the cleaning service, by tidying up my belongings and making it easy for them to get to surfaces and the floor. I wash my dishes when I’ve cooked and try to keep the kitchen and bath looking nice, but I don’t just clean to clean. And when I do clean, it’s generally because the dust has built up and it’s really more of a necessity, it’s a chore. Growing up, Saturday morning cleaning of mine and my sister’s bedrooms was on my chore-list. Making the bed was not only on the weekend chore-list, but it was a daily chore. And so for many years, I had a mental block, rebelling against the requirement, but something changed.

Making the bed is a reminder of growing up and essentially, a reminder of home. And that makes it very grounding. In a time in my life where things are constantly changing, where I’m beginning new adventures, and starting new journeys, a strong foundation is extremely important. Coming back to feelings of home and of growing up helps to restore the grounding, rebuilding the foundation in my energy system. It’s reconnecting me with my roots and bringing a feeling of stability. In a world that is extremely chaotic, a little bit of stability and a strong foundation are a very good thing. The two minutes that it takes to make the bed every morning is well worth the stability and foundation that comes from it.

So, did you make your bed today? Do you ever make your bed? Have you ever thought about why you do or you don’t? It might be worth a little exploration and who knows, maybe you too will start making your bed every day (if you don’t already).

it’s like christmas in august

Aug 24, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Art Journaling, Blog, creativity, self-care, Yoga  //  9 Comments

I had a grand plan this evening to update everyone on the status of my 30-day challenge that became 21 days, and then I came home to a package from my mom full of tons of my scrapbooking turned art journaling supplies. It feels like christmas in August. Given that my birthday was last week, today’s package was not the only one I received this month. The birthday treats that I got were awesome (and delicious). I shared the little chocolate bundt birthday cake (not pictured below) with my colleagues on my birthday.

my birthday surprise from my sister, brother-in-law, & nephews by Cheryl's

some of what was inside my birthday surprise

And then today, all of my art journaling supplies arrived. I had almost as much fun taking pictures of them, as I did opening the box and seeing what was inside.

art journaling supplies: scrap packs, ribbons, mounting squares, whole punch

art journaling supplies: cards & envelopes, stencils

art journaling supplies: multi-colored cardstock, cards & envelopes, stencils

These will be put to good use when I meet up with Valerie from CityLifeEats over Labor Day weekend for an afternoon of art journaling fun. It always feels like christmas when you get fun packages in the mail; maybe since it’s still august, I should really feel like my birthday has been extended a bit.

Have you gotten any surprises lately that have made it feel like an extended birthday or christmas in august? What have you done with those surprises?

*****

And for those of you interested, my challenge update: in the last 15 days, I’ve taken 9 yoga classes, I’ve taught a bunch of yoga classes, I spent time with friends and family, I rested and took care of myself. I haven’t come to my mat for a physical yoga practice every day for the last 15 days, but that’s because I’ve made choices. I chose to spend time with my friends and family and to rest when I was rundown. And these choices were probably more aligned with practicing yoga and being true to myself than had I come to my mat everyday. A fuller challenge update coming later this week. Thanks for all of the support… 7 days to go!

Today’s earthquake… my opportunity for self-care

Aug 23, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

DC was hit by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake today and I decided to turn it into an opportunity to take care of myself. It was kind of crazy. I was sitting at my computer at work, typing away, when all of a sudden everything started to shake. After a few minutes of shaking and trembling, the department leader was walking around saying, that we were all evacuating the building. And our department, the rest of the building, and what seemed like every building in downtown DC had been evacuated. After about 40 minutes outside, an announcement was made that the building was closed and we could re-enter to collect personal belongings. A quick stop inside to grab my vibrams and change into my yoga clothes (quite appropriate for my walk home) was followed by a 5ish mile walk home. Metro was running extreme delays and had more than over-crowded platforms at 3 PM, so walking seemed like the best thing to do on this beautiful DC day.

The walk home was incredible and seemed to be exactly what I needed today. The time outside helped me to clear my head and to relax, and my headache and any lingering body-aches seemed to disappear. The hills along the way resulted in some slightly tight calves, but they were well worth all the time I got to spend outside today. The walk has become part of a some much needed self-care. We tend to spend so much time taking care of everyone and everything else, that we forget that it’s equally important to take care of ourselves.

While I have discovered that coming to my mat is a great form of self-care, it isn’t always what I need. Today, I needed relaxation in a different form. The long walk was a great opportunity to be outside in the fresh air. And after settling in at home for a bit, I decided to use this as an opportunity to take care of myself further. I got a manicure and pedicure. A mani/pedi does for me what a massage does for others, it relaxes me and helps me to let go of tension, with an added perk of pretty finger and toe nails when it’s all done. After an awesome weekend of advanced teacher training and a day home in bed with a migraine yesterday, a little bit of self-care seemed to be exactly what I needed to help make me feel more like myself again.

We live such incredibly busy lives and there seems to be little to no opportunity for downtime (which has been more than true for me these last few months). We seem to always take care of everyone and everything else before we look to take care of ourselves. Finding or making the time to take care of ourselves opens the door for us to be better for everyone and everything else. By not running ourselves into the ground and making this time, we regain our vibrancy and positive energy. Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to find/make the time to take care of myself. Making myself a priority these last couple days (staying home yesterday; mani/pedi and walk home today) has definitely helped me to regain some of my positive energy. It’s too bad that it took an earthquake to help me make the time.

What’s your self-care regimen? When was the last time you made yourself a priority? If it wasn’t recently, I hope that you’ll be able to find/make the time for self-care soon and that, unlike me, you don’t need an earthquake, hurricane, or snowstorm to find/make it.

Finding a comfortable seat

Aug 20, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, meditation, Yoga  //  1 Comment

The first night of advanced yoga teacher training (“ATT”) has come and gone, and now I’m preparing for the start of a new day of learning. Last night, we spent part of our evening “finding a comfortable seat”.

folding chair

Sounds like an odd and easy task for a yoga teacher training, it’s almost like pulling up a chair and sitting on it. Our purpose for finding a comfortable seat was not for the purposes of hanging out, but for the purposes of bringing stillness to the body to enable us to bring stillness and awareness to the mind.

Last night, we explored a form of meditation called samatha or mindfulness meditation. Before we could begin our meditation practice, we needed to find a comfortable seat, where our body could be relaxed with the spine long, shoulders broad, legs comfortable, and palms resting gently on our thighs. This is a much more challenging task than it sounds. We explored two options for set up: a cross-legged seat (sukhasana or siddhasana) and a kneeling pose (modified virasana).

set up for cross-legged; rolled blankets can be placed under the knees on both sides of the body for comfort

set up for kneeling; ankles lay over a rolled blanket (adjusted for the height of your ankles), knees align next to one another

Settling into the comfortable seat, the crown of the head reaches towards the ceiling, while the spine remains neutral. The gaze is slightly in front of you and generally down towards the floor. And for this type of meditation, the eyes remain soft and open.

The purpose of samatha meditation is to enhance awareness. It is often referred to as a “thinking” meditation, for as you become aware of your breath, you label thoughts that come to you as “thinking”. This is acknowledging the thought without the thought taking control of your mind. Although this is a type of Buddhist meditation, anyone can practice this. It is not a religious practice; it is a practice of spirituality which can help you become more aware of yourself, your connection with the universe, and your relationship to your spiritual being (e.g. god, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed).

We found our comfortable seats (I prefer the cross-legged set-up as it is easier on my knees) and we began to meditate. Our first practice was for 10 minutes. I sat focusing on my breath, breathing in and out through my nose, gazing on a spot on the floor (trying really hard to keep my eyes soft, as I felt an overwhelming urge for them to close as my contacts got dry). I allowed myself to settle into the space. I found that my mind was relatively still and my bigger challenge was maintaining stillness in my body. I have come so far over the last year as my mind was able to focus on my breath, acknowledge what was happening around me, and then let it go. My mind wasn’t raising. My body, which I couldn’t keep still before we started our session, settled down and calmed. And at the 10 minute mark like clockwork, my right foot fell asleep.

Samatha translates as “calm abiding”. The calmness that the body feels after practicing this type of meditation is a pleasant side effect of the increased awareness, but it’s not the sole purpose for practicing this type of meditation. And my body definitely felt more calm and relaxed afterwards. For many years, when I’ve practiced this type of meditation, I’ve done it for the purpose of calming my body and my mind; now, I will do this to become more aware of my body and my mind.

Samatha is one of a variety of meditation techniques that we will work with over the next year in this ATT. I am excited to work with more and feel more confident now that I can guide a short meditation practice, at least guiding this style of meditation. If you haven’t tried this kind of meditation, I encourage you to find a comfortable seat, set a timer for 2, 5, 10 minutes, and give this mindfulness/awareness meditation a try. And when you are done, journal about your experience or share your experience here.

Check out this article (recommended by my teacher) to find simple instructions for performing samatha meditation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-nichtern/taking-your-seat-simple-m_b_410303.html.

33 things I’ve learned in my 30s

Aug 18, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, Uncategorized  //  4 Comments

To commemorate my 33rd birthday, here is my list of 33 things I’ve learned in my 30s. I started this list when I turned 30, with the first 27 items and the list has kept growing and evolving. Some items reflect things I’ve known for years and just decided to add, because they are good things to be reminded of from time to time.

1. I’m happy being single.

2. I’m secure with who I am.

3. I want more than a career in my life.

4. I know that any man I meet will come with baggage, and I can’t forget, I come with baggage too (ex’s, exclusively platonic friends of the opposite sex, exclusively platonic friends of the opposite sex that weren’t always exclusively platonic, those nights you’d rather forget)

5. I am in control of my life; my life doesn’t control me.

6. It’s easier to get over it, then to dwell on the negative.

7. Don’t get involved with colleagues (unless you know you’ll never have to see them again if it doesn’t work out).

8. My family is important to me and sometimes I should listen to their advice.

9. Don’t try to live someone else’s life, you will only be unhappy if you do this.

10. Treat ALL people with respect, no matter how they treat you.

11. It’s never right to yell at one of your staff, but if you are going to do that, don’t do it in front of their staff or anyone else for that matter.

12. Delegate work, you can’t possibly do it all by yourself. but remember, just because it doesn’t look like you did it when you get it back, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong, it’s just different.

13. Smile, because you woke up today.

14. Some guys are jerks, and that’s the way it is… get over it, and fast, because they aren’t worth the emotional output.

15. Keep up with your skin in your 20′s and no one will know you are in your 30′s. ;)

16. Friends come in and out of your life; cherish the time you have with them.

17. Breaking off friendships is never easy, but sometimes, it’s the right thing to do.

18. You say “good-bye” to your old company, you say “I’ll stay in touch” to the people from your old company. It’s the people that make leaving hard.

19. Some people don’t ever want to admit they are wrong, even when they clearly are.

20. For the first time in my life, I’m comfortable in my own skin.

21. I am a successful woman, I need to find a man that will complement me, who is not afraid of my success. I DO NOT have to change for a man.

22. You don’t plan events for the under 21 set, unless they are related to you and well, then it’s called a family function.

23. You can be in people’s lives, without being in the same state.

24. Some people will never change, so don’t waste your time trying to change them – accept them as is, or move on.

25. Overextend yourself in the areas of life that you are passionate about, but recognize when it’s too much.

26. You don’t NEED to be connected to work all the time. There was a time before blackberries and e-mail.

27. As I keep getting older, I keep learning new things about myself.

28. To parallel park… my sister told me I should add this one, since I’ve recently gotten much better at it.

29. There is always room for growth and personal development.

30. Everyone doesn’t have to like you and there are people who cross your path that you may never be friends with. And this is okay.

31. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know when I’m ready to find out, it will happen.

32. Sometimes you need to have incredibly low lows. And when they happen, you have to embrace them as a learning experience, even if that is hard to recognize at the time.

33. Live in the present.  Your past is the past, learn from it; your future is uncertain, so you can’t worry about it; live in the present and it will all work out the way it’s supposed to.

The 30 day yoga challenge that became 21

Aug 11, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, Yoga  //  No Comments

I like doing things that benefit local charities and I like doing yoga (but you’ve figured that one out already). So, I registered for a Citizen Effect 30-day yoga challenge, which runs August 1st to 31st to benefit Becky’s Fund, a local DC charity that seeks to end domestic violence. Well, it took me the first 10 days of the month to really get myself geared up. I finally sent out an e-mail to my family and friends, asking for support and have committed to practicing yoga, at home or in the studio everyday for the remainder of the month. So, my 30-day yoga challenge has become another 21-day yoga challenge, which I am totally up for. I completed the Tranquil Space June 2011 21-day challenge, so I know that this is feasible and something that I can do.

Now that I’m committed, the next step is to get myself onto my mat for that much needed me-time every day. And I’ve committed to periodically blogging about the challenge over the remainder of the month. So, let’s say that I kicked off my challenge on August 10 and over the course of the next 21-day days, I will be on my mat taking care of me and helping benefit others all at the same time. Last night was day 1, and on day 1, I took a really great 75-minute all-levels vinyasa class at the yoga studio and then I taught the 60 minute members all-levels vinyasa class there. I had fun, unwound and relaxed, completely relieving the tension throughout my upper back that I’d been feeling nearly all week. It was the way a Wednesday night should be. Tonight, day 2, I went to a really great yoga 1 class, experiencing another teacher’s yoga 1 to help me as I develop my yoga 1 teaching style (developing my yoga teaching style – definitely a topic to be explored another time). It felt great and was just what i needed.

I am excited and amped to complete this 21 day challenge – taking care of myself, while helping others. At the end, hopefully I will have raised at least $250 to help end domestic violence, practiced yoga 21 times (between classes and home practice), and be back on track with my personal yoga practice. These kind of challenges provide me extra incentive to come to my mat when I’m having trouble motivating myself (even teachers sometimes need help being motivated to come to the mat). I’m so excited to be on the path to completing this challenge and on the path to restoring my personal yoga practice, as I build my yoga teaching practice (restoring my personal yoga practice, as I build my yoga teaching practice – another topic to be explored another time). Can’t wait to share my progress and my practice!

Happy Thursday!

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About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. Yoga On-the-Go*
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. Yoga 1*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Substitute Teach, As Needed*
Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

*Click here to make a reservation for any of these classes!

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