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Unfurling the creator within… a series on yoga and creativity – part 2

Sep 17, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, Yoga  //  No Comments

I routinely explore my creative side through knitting, cooking, photography, and my class sequencing.

“One can be creative all the time. Creativity is usually associated with all the things that we do in any time of the day. Most of the things and almost all events can involve creativity. From cooking to dressing up involves creativity. Being creative tends to be shown when opportunities come or when the situation calls for it most especially when it is a project requirement or activities that need a touch of creative sense.”

I started my exploration of creativity by exploring the definition of creativity, what it means to be creative, and the attributes of the creative mind. I found a variety of studies and academic synthesis papers on the topic, but started by checking out the dictionary. As I explored, it was a lot of information to take in.

What are creativity, the creative, and the attributes of the creative mind and body?

Dictionary.com defines creativity as “(1) the state or quality of being creative; (2) the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.; and (3) the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.”  Creativity has also been defined in studies about creative accomplishments as “an accomplishment that is ‘both novel and useful’.” An operational definition of creativity is “to produce or bring into existence something new by a course of action or behavior.”  Other researchers have defined creativity as “the capacity to general novel, socially valued products and ideas, or as the ability to produce work that is both novel and appropriate.”

These definitions are very broad, but all very similar. These definitions allow for the expansion of the thought of creativity beyond an artistic endeavor, which is often what one thinks about when hearing creative. The definitions allow for considering creativity to be the “thinking outside the box” moments in an office environment, leisure activities, like cooking or decorating, or academic activities, such as making presentations. They suggest that creativity is all around us; a part of our daily lives and being able to tap into it could enhance an individual’s life on a variety of levels.

One study noted that there are ten dimensions of a creative personality. These are:

1)    Great deal of physical energy,

2)    Being smart yet naïve,

3)    Combination of playfulness and discipline,

4)    Alternate between imagination and fantasy and a rooted sense of reality,

5)    Harbor introvertness and extrovertness,

6)    Remarkably humble and proud,

7)    Ability to escape the rigid gender role stereotyping,

8)    Traditionalist,

9)    Very passionate about their work yet they can extremely be objective about their work, and

10) Exposure to suffering and pain with a great deal of enjoyment.

These ten dimensions provide a good summary of the characteristics of the creative. Similar to the definition of creativity, these dimensions are broad and can encompass many types of individuals. Another study noted that creative people often have some or all of these traits: “broad interests, independent judgment, autonomy, self-confidence, intuition, ability to resolve paradoxes or accommodate opposite trains of thought in one’s self-concept, a strong sense of the self as creative, high tolerance of ambiguity, and willingness to grow.”

The question then becomes, if this is what creativity is, what are the attributes of a creative body and mind. Stopping for a moment to pay attention to what happens when an idea takes shape you might notice that in the exact moment that the idea is forming your mind feels relaxed and spacious. The creative impulse likely strikes when there is breathing room in the mind. This is the key point in defining what a creative mind is. A creative mind is often relaxed and spacious.

Although a relaxed and spacious mind is often the breeding ground for creative impulses, creativity may also strike when a person is in a variety of emotional states, ranging from lighter, happier moods to states of depression and sadness. In a state of sadness or depression, one might create artwork or literature that is darker, reflecting the emotions at the time the piece was developed.

An individual might seek to manifest an atmosphere that facilitates moving in and out of some of a variety of emotional states to achieve different outcomes. The practice of yoga can often bring an individual into those emotional spaces, often bringing up a variety of emotions and life experiences. And that is often noted to bring about the relaxed and spacious feeling.

Looking beyond the creative mind, creative people often are open to new experiences. As many participants in a non-statistical survey I conducted noted, being creative has opened them up to taking risks or taking on new challenges and exploring. Exploring this side of the Self has made them more confident and willing to give things a try. Whether someone considers himself or herself to be a “creative person” isn’t what determines if he or she is creative; it is whether he or she has ingenuity to think beyond the current situation, the confidence to take risks/chances, the willingness to be different, and the perseverance to try again that defines a creative person.

Next time

I’ll explore the similarities of the creative mind and the body after yoga, the benefits of being creative and the benefits of yoga.

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Resources

Magno, Carlo. Explaining the Creative Mind, The International Journal of Research and Review, Vol. 3, pp. 10-19 (September 2009).

Solomon, Miriam. Standpoint and Creativity, Symposium on Standpoint Theory, pp. 226-237 (2010).

Allmara, Angela R. and Ferraro, F. Richard. Creativity in Individuals At-Risk or Not At-Risk for Eating Disorders, Psychology Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2., pp. 51-54 (2010).

Horan, Roy. The Neuropsychological Connection Between Creativity and Meditation, Creativity Research Journal, 21(2-3), pp. 199-222 (2009).

Kenny, Robert M. The Whole is Greater: Reflective Practice, Human Development and Fields of Consciousness and Collaborative Creativity, Worl Futures, 64, pp. 590-630 (2008).

Unfurling the creator within… a series on yoga and creativity – part 1

Aug 29, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, Yoga  //  No Comments

the final handouts

“Yoga opens up the flow of creativity, the unfurling of the creator within.” (yogajournal.com)

Over the last twelve months, I’ve been pursuing my 500-hour yoga teaching certification. The capstone to the training is writing and presenting our yoga thesis. Over the last few months, I worked to research my topic, write my paper, develop my workshop, and pull together my handouts.

I chose to explore the connection between yoga and creativity because in my own life, I have seen an incredible connection between yoga and creativity. Yoga has helped me to find the space to be in the present, to take risks, to relax and let go, and most importantly, to find clarity. My creative pursuits, specifically knitting and photography, also keep me in the present, help me to relax and let go, and bring clarity to my mind. I felt that it was inevitable for me to find out more about the connection between yoga and creativity, as I have found it to be profound. Yoga has created the conditions in my body to foster and enhance creativity. Pursuing my creative interests has helped lengthen the duration of the benefits my yoga practice brings me (being in the present moment, relaxing and letting go, and clearing my mind). It’s a never-ending circle.

the assembly line for creating my workshop handouts

This new series will explore the connection between yoga and creativity, providing insights from my research and paper. I’ll also explore ways that yoga can help us tap into our creativity by releasing energy blockages within the body and provide resources to help you explore the topic further. I hope you’ll join me on this exploration of the connection between yoga and creativity.

As the exploration begins, a few questions to ponder…

Has yoga inspired your creativity? How?

What benefits do you feel like you get from allowing your creative side to flourish?

What are your favorite ways to express your creative side on and off the mat?

Next time… creativity defined, what it means to be creative, and the attributes of a creative mind.

A Yogini Learns to Golf

Aug 1, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, golf, Yoga  //  No Comments

My golf clubs... I've had them for 7 years and happy to be playing with them again (after a 5 year break)

About two months ago, I decided it was time for me to get my golf clubs out of my apartment and start using them again. A little history… I got my first set of golf clubs back in 2003 from my dad after talking for a while about how I wanted to learn how to golf. At that time, I took some golf lessons and within two years had replaced the generic clubs I had with the women’s club set you see here. After nearly a year or so of lessons and playing many a 9-hole round, I had never managed to get consistency in my swing and quite frankly, i was never really good, so I put the clubs away for a while – five years to be specific.

So, I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up my clubs a month ago to start some full swing lessons. And I think I managed to come back to my clubs in a very different place than I had been before. The first lesson and the one that has stuck so well with me was “initiate the swing from the torso”. It was the first instruction and the one that helped me to begin to get consistency in my golf swing. And it brought me back to my yoga practice in a variety of ways.

Why I love golfing at East Potomac Park... it's cool being able to see and aim at the monuments while playing.

 

I started to think about my golf swing as a twist in my yoga practice. I remember how I tell my students to initiate twists from the torso, not the arms or the shoulders or the neck, but the midsection. It is something I always try to remember when I twist and it’s critical to getting a consistent motion when swinging a golf club.

Proper initiation of a twist wasn’t the only thing that connected to my yoga practice. Over the last few months, I’ve been spending time in my physical practice working on inversions and arm balances. I’ve been building strength and connecting to my core. As much as those poses are a function of arm strength, they are also a function of core and pelvic floor engagement or the bandhas – uddiyana and mula, to be specific. As I’ve been practicing my swing these last few weeks, I’ve been connecting even more with these bandhas. Drawing up on the pelvic floor and pulling my navel in and up has helped me find stability in my stance and establish a stable foundation. It’s helped me to connect to my swing in a way that I’d never been able to connect before.

top scorecard from when i played the course 6 or so years ago (62 strokes); bottom scorecard from my round on 7/21/2012 (41 strokes)

Initiating the twist and connecting to the bandhas are only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve also found myself reconnecting with my breath each time I get ready to swing the club. One of the fundamental elements of a vinyasa practice, of any yoga practice, is the linking of breath with movement. As I set up behind the ball, I take a couple deep breaths. And just as I would float my feet forward or turn my world upside down on an inhale, I initiate the movement of the club on the inhale. Connecting to my breath gives me time to move back into the present moment and clear my head. I move away from thinking about the result and towards the journey. I get out of my head.

I still have a long journey ahead to develop consistency in my swing and there will be lots of practice time on that journey. Continuing to apply these fundamentals from my asana practice during that practice time, though, will go a long way. I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey and seeing how I can progress along the way. Who knows what will happen, but no matter what, I intend to enjoy the journey.

Fun in Frederick!

Apr 10, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, meditation, Yoga  //  No Comments

It seems like forever since I last posted. Life has been extremely busy lately, but this past weekend, I got a chance to take break and get away for the day – a mini-retreat. On Saturday, I made the trip up to Frederick, MD to meet up with a fellow yoga teacher – Thais – who I’ve been tweeting with. After months (literally) of trying to schedule, we were finally able to find a day that would work.

I met up with Thais at her yoga studio, Sol Yoga, we grabbed some tea at a local coffee house, and then walked around Frederick chatting about… well… yoga (and a bit about photography). I took some pictures as we were walking around the park. It was so pretty. Thais grew up in Frederick, so she was giving me the tour of her hometown.

When we got to the lake, we stopped and took some yoga pictures. It was such the perfect location that I had to have a picture or two in a yoga pose. It was fun being photographer and model – a little bit of creative play.

Thais in Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

me in one of my favorite poses

 

 

 

Thais meditating under the cherry blossom

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cherry blossoms were just beginning to peak in Frederick, so I took advantage and captured some of them.

It was a nice walk and mini-”photo shoot” before we headed back to Sol Yoga to Spiritually Fly with Faith Hunter. This was the second class I’ve ever taken with Faith. The first was back in 2010 at Yoga on the Mall.

The workshop was great. It was exactly what I needed from my yoga practice that afternoon. It started with a dharma talk, followed by a little chanting, an invigorating flow (even got to practice my handstand), and a closing meditation before savasana. After the workshop closed, there was a lovely meet and greet with Faith – she was so approachable and easy to talk to. And everyone at Sol was so welcoming. I even got to stay for the teacher sangha afterwards. The energy was so great.

me & Faith

It was such a great day. I am so happy that I ventured out of the city. I had such a great day and found another place and people that I want to visit again soon. I’m also looking forward to “Spiritually Fly”ing again, which I plan to do in the upcoming weeks.

me, Faith, & Thais

 

 

 

me & Thais

This past Saturday was like a mini-retreat – such a great time, with great people, and all inspired by a yoga connection. I can’t wait to do it again (and the next time, hopefully without my allergies acting up).

 

Finding a Bit of Tranquility in the City of Brotherly Love

Feb 12, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, vacation, Yoga  //  No Comments

Every February I make my way to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, to attend one of my fraternity’s annual leadership conferences. This February, I also made my way to find a dose of tranquility. I arrived in Philly at 8:15 AM yesterday and after settling in a bit, I met up with one of my first Tranquil Space (“TS”) teachers, Colleen at Dhyana Yoga to take an all-levels vinyasa class together. (We actually have been planning this for over three months.)

We went to Justin’s class at the Rittenhouse studio. It was exactly what I needed yesterday – a perfectly paced, challenging, core-building, sweat-producing yoga class. It’s been a while since I sweat this much and it felt great. We started the class right off with slow (5 breath) navasana crunches. The sequencing was intense at times, a lot on one leg, and holding poses for five long breaths before transitioning – but that was all part of the challenge. Justin emphasized not only finding your edge in each asana and listening to your body, but also pushing up against the edge to see if you can find a new edge. Although I wasn’t finding my way into handstand at each opportunity that arose, I did find myself having done over 120 navasana crunches to build core strength, flying into bakasana (crane), twisting and flying into parsva bakasana (side crow), and pushing myself beyond where I might otherwise stop. It was awesome. Next time I’m in Philly, I will be going back.

My brunch - the Healthy Elvis - it was delicious

After class, Colleen and I met up with a former TS tranquility concierge – Lisa, who’s also in Philly now, at Continental for brunch. Lisa’s been pursuing her 200-hr certification at Dhyana Yoga and Colleen is actually exploring one of their immersion trainings. We enjoyed a delicious brunch, while talking about yoga, teacher training, and life. It was really cool how Tranquil Space brought us all together. I even brought some of the new TS flair for them (maybe you can see it in the picture of the three of us).

Lisa, Colleen, & Lisa

After brunch, Colleen headed home, while Lisa and I made our way down Walnut Street to do some shopping. We had a great time making our way into Lululemon and then getting a little lost in Athleta – we found a few too many great pieces to outfit us for teaching and taking class, even bought a matching top, because it was just too cute. It was so much fun.

pants and patterned top from Athleta, blue & gray top and gray top from Lululemon

After the great afternoon out and about, i headed back to my conference. I had such a wonderfuk afternoon. I am definitely planning to get back up to Philly again soon for another visit filled with yoga, friends, and shopping.

Evoking change… developing a daily practice

Jan 20, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, meditation, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

This last November, I was inspired to start making changes for what was left of 2011 and had begun setting my intentions for 2012. I am happy to say that as a result of that process, I have successfully been eating my veggies and fruits every day. Then in December, I committed to a 25-day Yogathon created by Teeg of Living in the (k)Now. I modified the requirements of her yogathon to fit into my life, while committing to change body, mind, and soul. My commitment was to:

- practice yoga everyday – at a minimum, 5 sun/moon salutations each day (mind)

my comfortable seat for meditation, I use a cushion too sometimes.

- develop a daily meditation practice – 5+ minutes of seated meditation each day (soul)

- eat healthier – 5 fruits/veggies each day, leveraging my November changes (body)

some of those veggies - a vegan pizza slice from Whole Food Foggy Bottom

I found that by changing my mindset of what it meant to do yoga everyday, it was a lot easier for me to commit to practicing everyday. I also found that by not requiring myself to do more than what works out to about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes of practice, that it became easier to build my home yoga practice. There were days that my body wanted more than the 5 sun salutations and I ended up practicing at home for a lot longer, sometimes 45 minutes or an hour even. There were also days where 5 sun salutations was exactly enough.

Through this “yogathon”, I also learned that I can sit and meditate without fidgeting. I would set the timer on my phone for 5 or 7 minutes the first couple days and when it would go off, I actually felt disappointed, I wanted to sit longer. So, then I increased the time 12, 15, 18 minutes and sometimes that even felt too short. I learned that I could sit, focus on my breath, and just be. It was amazing.

My preferred meditation was a Sanskrit mantra meditation, referred to as Soham or Hamsa. I would practice Soham during my yoga practice – inhale “so”, exhale “ham” (like hum), as I moved through my practice. And I applied a visual that one of my yoga teachers taught me, envision on “so” energy as a bright light moving down the spine, on “ham” see the light explode and leave the body in all directions. After I completed my practice, I would come to sit and practice the inverse – Hamsa, inhale “ham”, exhale “so”. I’d visualize the energy moving up the spine this time. In and of itself, this mantra is suggested to be the natural mantra. It is the natural sound of inhalation and exhalation. I think this is why it resonates so much with me.

These last 9 months, I had found that I was having a lot of trouble finding my practice again, after becoming a yoga teacher. I found this yogathon to be my way of coming back to my mat and my practice. And it was a nice bit of encouragement to help me develop a meditation practice. Although I do falter some days and my practice may not be exactly what’s expected, i’m learning to let that go and be happy that tomorrow is always a new day and another opportunity to come to my mat and meditation cushion.

Are there any daily practices that you have struggled with coming back to or have always wanted to develop? Are there any you “resolved” to start in 2012? What will you do to make it easier to keep them?

My Mini-Anusara Immersion

Jan 6, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

One of my teachers frequently reminds us about the benefits of and need for making time for self-care. She even suggests that we each take time to go on a retreat – whether that be an afternoon alone wandering in the city, a formal planned retreat to some far off destination, or even a day trip up to NYC to sightsee and maybe take some yoga classes. Time away to help ignite your internal fire. Last week was just that for me. I took 4 yoga classes at my go-to yoga studio near the town I grew up in – Dancing Foot Yoga (“DFY”). DFY specializes mostly in the Anusara, Iyengar, and Kundalini styles of yoga. My week was a like a mini-Anusara immersion, since that was the style of all the classes that I took.

It was the jumpstart I needed after the incredibly busy last few months and before moving into the new year. I made the time for self-care, bought myself a 5 class pass, and made it to my mat 4 times while in NJ. And my favorite part of the entire experience was all that I learned from the wonderful teachers at DFY. Each teacher – Emily, Kat, and Regina – is Anusara-certified teachers and brings her own distinctive teaching voice into the studio.

I took two of Emily’s mixed level classes last week. Emily’s background includes practice in the Ashtanga tradition, in addition to her Anusara practice and training. Her practices were challenging to me from the sequencing to the application of alignment. I had fun playing with the flows and was definitely inspired to bring some of Emily’s simple creativity into my classes. My favorite sequence included a modified lunge twist (parivrtta prasvakonasana) transitioning to extended side angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana) transitioning to side plank (vasisthasana). It was a fun sequence to play with. In class, Emily reinforced the principles of keeping the side body long, inner body bright – allowing the heart to shine, and keeping the arm bones in the shoulder sockets along the back body. By my third day of taking classes last week, I was showing marked improvement in doing all three and although I get sore when doing my downward facing dogs (adho mukha svanasana) now, my alignment is improving greatly. And I picked up some new cuing, which helped me, and I hope that I can effectively bring into my classes to help guide my students.

Regina’s class on Friday also had a strong alignment focus. Regina started her class with a quote from Buddha about abandoning that which does not serve us (I really have to find the quote). She talked about samskaras (samskaras are patterns that we tend to repeat over and over in our lives). And in light of the upcoming new year, her focus was on letting go of the past and trying to break some of the patterns that may hold us back. The practice focused a lot on keeping our lower ribs in our back body, while keeping the heart open. I found it particularly hard at times to do this, as the natural inclination can be to puff out the lower ribs, but I did it. She taught us to sit straight up and down, rather than leaning forward. The class theme particularly resonated with me and I only wish I could remember more of her exact cues. And in our seated forward fold (paschimottanasana), Regina came over and taught me the “anusara” way to do it, breathing into the back body and incrementally folding deeper, keeping a yogi toe-lock and elbows out to the side. I think it has changed my seated forward fold forever.

In DC, I don’t take the opportunity very often to attend classes in meditation and there are very few opportunities to take classes in pranayama. So when I saw both on the DFY schedule, I made it a point to go and try them out. I went to a class called Hip Opening & Meditation taught by Kat. The class was really hip opening, pranayama, and meditation and I loved it. It was a complete change of pace from my normal practice. Our hip opening was akin to a yin practice in that we weren’t overly warm when we started and we held each asana for several breaths. After about 30 minutes of hip opening, Kat set us up to practice some pranayama. I had my first experiences with Viloma I and Viloma II breathing techniques. We practiced a little more before more pranayama and then a short seated meditation and savasana. On Friday, I stayed after Regina’s class for Kat’s pranayama class. It was 30 minutes of just pranayama. We did some of the same techniques that we did on Tuesday, including some nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). I am so happy that I took these classes. I am excited to try to bring the new breathing techniques that I learned into the classes I teach. It will be challenging myself as a teacher, something that I definitely need to do more often.

I really enjoyed my mini-Anusara immersion. I learned so much – refinements to alignment, new breathing techniques, and new ways to explore how to let go. Now, time to implement what I learned in my teaching and personal practice (and maybe find an Anusara class that I can take to help supplement my vinyasa practice).

When was the last time you went on a retreat or made time for self-care? Did it reignite a fire within you or give you a much needed jumpstart? When are you going to have that time again?

What’s your Halloween playlist?

Oct 27, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, music, Yoga  //  No Comments

courtesy of pinterest

I have a lot of fun creating playlists for the yoga classes that I teach. It stems back to when I was a kid making mix tapes (yes, cassette tapes, remember those) when I’d record songs off the radio. This process definitely got easier when burning CDs on the home computer became common place. And now, making a playlist is as easy as a few clicks of a mouse in iTunes or some other music management software.

courtesy of pinterest

Back in the day, I would create mix tapes for car rides, to listen to in my Walkman when hanging out, and for when I would exercise (nothing like an energetic mix to help you make it through a long walk or run – there was that one fall that I ran cross-country in high school). As the years have evolved, my playlist creation has been expanded to playlists for yoga classes I teach, home practice, and, although not so recently, for my time on the elliptical machine at the gym. I have so much fun going through my collection of music and picking seemingly random songs that I feel go together really well. Last week’s playlist had the Lion King theme, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, right after Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory.

So being the week before Halloween, I decided that this week’s playlists would have a Halloween theme to them. Really though, how could they not? I themed my playlists around July 4th in a similar fashion. And I cannot wait until I can use my holiday playlists. I faced the challenge this time to strike a balance between the darker and lighter sides of Halloween, hence the wide range of musical selections. Here’s my core playlist – 75 minutes – for Halloween:

Title Artist Album
1 La valse des monstres Yann Tiersen Amélie (Sountrack from the Motion Picture)
2 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Leopold Stokowski & The Philadelphia Orchestra Fantasia
3 Overture Addams Family Orchestra The Addams Family (Soundtrack from the Musical) [Bonus Track Version]
4 This Is Halloween Panic! At the Disco Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)
5 Thriller Michael Jackson The Essential Michael Jackson
6 Time Warp Little Nell, Patricia Quinn & Richard O’Brien The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)
7 Whatever Happened to Saturday Night? (Glee Cast Version) Glee Cast Glee: The Music – The Rocky Horror Glee Show
8 Once Bitten, Twice Shy Lori Chacko Elvira’s Gravest Hits
9 Haunted House Elvira Elvira’s Gravest Hits
10 Monster Mash Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers The Original Monster Mash
11 Thriller / Heads Will Roll (Glee Cast Version) Glee Cast Glee: The Music, Vol. 5
12 Oogie Boogie’s Song Danny Elfman Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)
13 Devil’s Arcade Bruce Springsteen Magic
14 Wanted Dead Or Alive Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet
15 Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 “Fate”: I. Allegro con Brio London Symphony Orchestra & Josef Krips The 50 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music
16 Bewitched Knightsbridge 100 Hits: TV Themes
17 End Title Danny Elfman Nightmare Before Christmas (Special Edition)
18 Great Pumpkin Waltz Vince Guaraldi Trio Charlie Brown Holiday Hits

 

What’s in your Halloween playlist? Do you like to do themed playlists around the holidays for your workouts? Any song recommendations that I should think about going into Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy listening!

Finding balance…

Oct 26, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, self-care, Yoga  //  No Comments

copyright: http://www.ou.edu/ouija/jugglingtricks.htm

A few times before I’ve mentioned here that I’ve been seeking balance between work, life, and yoga (yes, for me, the scale has more than 2 sides, so maybe it’s more like juggling). It’s a challenge that I’ve been facing, since I began to teach yoga. As a new teacher, and I’ve been told that even with more experience, it can be hard to find a balance between your yoga teaching practice and your personal practice. Before I embarked on my teacher training journey, I was in the studio 5 or 6 days a week. There were even some days that I would double-up and take two classes back-to-back. When I started my training and then began to teach, I found it harder and harder to come to my own mat and I’m continuing to work on coming back with more consistency.

This week I made a change to help me find balance. For the last 7 months, I had been a teaching assistant in one of my favorite yoga classes. I used to take the yoga 2 every Monday night, but when I started to assist it, my options changed: the earlier class – the 5:30 – which I’m not always able to make it to or the 8:45, which I tried for a few weeks and realized it was just too late for me. I also began teaching regularly at the studio (3 classes that I absolutely love teaching). Life has also picked up (hanging out with friends, visiting family, finding time for baking, knitting, art journaling, etc.), so even the few days that were completely open for my practice began to disappear.

So, this week, I made a change. I made the difficult decision to stop assisting the yoga 2 on Mondays to assist a class on Wednesday nights (which I’m thrilled about and is such a great opportunity). The change reduces my teaching and assisting commitment to 2 days a week and frees up my Mondays for my personal practice – at whatever time I would like. The change was an important step for me in a never-ending journey to balance all the important aspects of the bigger picture – work, life, and yoga. I’m excited to see how this change helps me on this journey and what other changes I might start to make as a result. How often will I practice? Will the time of my practice change (maybe I’ll make a 6:45 AM class once a week)? And how will all the changes impact me overall? Will I feel different? I’m excited to see and over time write more about my journey to find balance.

What have you done in your life to find balance? What changes have you made in order to align work, life, and other things with your current priorities?

Hand Wash Cold

Oct 16, 2011   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, books, Yoga  //  6 Comments

Tonight was the inaugural meeting of the Tranquil Space Arlington bi-monthly book club. We read Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller for our inaugural book. This book relates life and life experiences to the seemingly mundane activities that we perform in and around the house – the laundry, the kitchen, and the yard. We spent an hour sharing our thoughts about the book, sharing quotes that we found that resonated with each of us, and realizing that although our situations may be different, we all share similar experiences and have similar things going on in our lives. The discussion was wonderful and everyone shared. Here’s a collection of some of the quotes from the book that resonated most with me (there are many more) and some pictures from the evening.

our set up in the tea lounge at TSA

“It’s the things we fear that chase us down, that haunt and hobble us until they inevitably overtake us and leave us with the weary self-fulfillment we were so afraid of.” (pg 71)

“Unconditional love does not pick and choose. This love comes without judgment but not without action.” (pg 83)

the favors, made by co-book club leader Clare

“Life arrives in a precise and yet unplanned sequence to deliver exactly what we need in order to realize our greatest potential.” (pg 64)

“Happiness is simple. Everything we do to find it is complicated.” (pg 33)

“The world needs a homemaker – me – to make a home within it.” (pg 66)

setting up the favors

“We are not the designers of our lives. Life is the designer of us.” (pg 63)

“Somewhere deep in my skin was the capacity for untarnished joy and freedom. How could I find it again?” (pg 33)

“We can only love the world we wake up to. The world where things change, dishes get dirty, we age, we get sick, and, one day, we die.” (pg 113)

our book club group (minus me)

“Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What we pay attention to thrives. What we do not pay attention to withers and dies.” (pg 130)

“when we release ourselves from judgment and inadequacy, we free everyone else from our criticism and blame.” (pg 26)

me, Clare, & Sarah (co-leaders of the book club) - Big, big, big thank you to Clare & Sarah for making this such a great night - it would not have been the same without them.

“There’s really nothing more to it. For your own peace of mind, get rid of any three-letter word that you might automatically insert before now. As in the or not. Take those out and put nothing else in. Get rid of the idea that now is anything but right here: where you are, as you are.” (pg 106)

“Sort the light from the dark, the delicate from the indestructible, and the heavy duty from the hand wash cold. Empty the basket, and empty it again. That’s the wonderful thing about laundry: it never ends.” (pg 169)

As you can see, there were many elements of this book that resonated with me. Our hour of discussion hit on many of the quotes or elements above in one way or another. We talked about multi-tasking, paying attention, letting go, doing laundry, doing the dishes, and gardening. We talked about life and how life happens. I often like to say that life happens when you least expect it, let it happen. And that is something that I took away from this book. It was filled with some things I knew, some things I had never thought about, and many things that I should remember day in and day out. I have numerous passages highlighted to use at the end of my future yoga classes and expect this will be among the books that I go back to over and over again. I’m excited about our next meeting in December. Happy Reading!

Have you read any good books lately? Any must-read recommendations?

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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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