Posts tagged ‘Yoga’

Up with Pups

Uppup: Comfortable clothing that expresses your love for dogs and yoga.  And hockey.  And silliness.  And movies.  And occasionally wasting time to see very funny things on youtube.

Don’t mistake the silence of this blog for silence in the world of Uppup.  Carol has been hard at work on many wonderful ideas, including YoHo, a very funny video featuring pups, hockey, yoga, and friends wearing Uppup gear.  If you have about six minutes, check it out here:

Also check the website for new products, and a great sale on some older styles.
While you’re on youtube, check out some yoga podcasts, too.  Kathryn Budig has some wonderful free podcasts, all around twenty minutes long.  Her arm balance sequences are particularly fun and challenging.

If you need to wring out that second helping of stuffing (or turkey, or pie, if you’re like me), twists are a wonderful way to rid the body of toxins.  Here’s one of Kathryn’s revolved practices:

Happy Thanksgiving, all.  I am grateful for yoga, and dogs, and hockey, and silliness, and youtube videos that make me laugh out loud.  Hope you have a long list, too.

November 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm 1 comment


I can sum up the themes for the Intro to Yoga series into the shortest self-help book ever.

Chapter One: Keep it Simple

Chapter Two: Create Space

Chapter Three: Dedication

Chapter Four: Delight

Chapter Five: Visit Your Family

Chapter Six: Evenness

The last chapter is what we worked on last Sunday.  Evenness (sattvic or sattva in sanskrit), is the idea that when life moves through extremes, we don’t follow the swing of the pendulum.  Of course, we feel joy and sorrow, rage and awe, but we don’t act on them, we don’t hold them in the body or the mind for any length of time.  We see the pendulum swinging, and we see that each time it swings, it swings through center, through evenness.  And, we hope that with time, with practice, the swings of the pendulum grow less extreme, our experience of life is life with ease, with evenness: a life that is sattvic.

You’ll note that there were six classes in the series, but class five I was off in RI visiting my family (yes, my grandmother had a wonderful time at her party, as we all did!).  A balance like this is probably about right: five parts in practice on my mat, one part putting it into practice in the world.

February 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm 4 comments


I’ll miss my intro to yoga class this coming Sunday, as I’ll be helping my grandmother celebrate her 100th birthday.

My grandmother has gotten to 100 with amazing good health and good cheer.  A year and a half ago, when she was in the hospital for surgery, it was her first overnight stay in a hospital in more than forty years.

When we visited her over the summer, she told me how much god has blessed her life.  She has lived through many hardships, including coming to this country alone as a teenager.  She has watched many people die, including her husband, her son-in-law (my father), and her dear niece.  Still, she says, I have had a lot of good luck.

I can’t explain her longevity, but I can explain her luck: she has dedicated herself to the good.  Surely, my grandmother could speak of her sorrows.  But much of the time, she chooses to speak of the good of her life, both the past and the present.  She dedicates herself to the highest–the highest in herself and in others, and in so doing, she presents an amazing example to me.

my grandmother, my daughter, and I

If I make it to 100, like my grandmother, will I spend my days talking about the luck god has given me, or will I spend them lamenting the friends I have lost, the relatives I have buried, the chances I have missed? It depends in part on what I dedicate myself to.

As I think of it, there are at least two kinds of dedication.  There’s dedication to the yoga practice (or our careers, or our hobbies, or whatever it is that we do).  This is what brings us to the mat when we don’t really feel like practicing, it is what snaps our mind back to attention when we waver.  It is a tool that we can use, so that we spend our time doing what matters.

Then there’s the dedication we have in our hearts.  This kind of dedication isn’t about what we do, but how we approach what we do.

In the intro class this past Sunday, I invited students to think of someone who inspires them.  Someone who dedicates themselves to the highest.  Someone who sees and experiences the good and the bad in life, and chooses to focus on the good.  Someone whose dedication can be an inspiration, so that we too can see our luck, see what life gives and brings us, and be grateful.

February 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm 6 comments

creating space

While sometimes the language of yoga makes me uncomfortable–it can be a bit squirrelly for my taste–at times, it resets my mind in just the right way.  Witness: creating space. This week’s theme for my intro to yoga students.

In everyday language and thoughts, I “make time” for things.  I’ve been trying to make time for years, but especially in this past year, welcoming two babies into our lives while continuing to work, teach and practice yoga, keep our house in some semblance of order, keep contact with friends, not to mention showering and hair washing and changing my underwear daily.

I have never come across a formula to “make time.”  There are still 24 hours in my day, after all these years.

This is where the language of yoga comes in.  Instead of trying to fabricate time, can I create space?

Perhaps the language is not as squirrelly as I thought at first.  I have created space in my home: what was once a closet under the attic stairs is now my office, where I write this blog and sew some crafts.  I have created space in my body: taller now than ten years ago when I started my regular yoga practice.  I can create space in my heart: accepting what is, even when that’s uncomfortable, when I am not getting my way.

So, can I create space on the clock or the calendar, in my day?  How?  Thich Nhat Hanh elegantly explains it this way: if, when you are washing the dishes, you are thinking ahead to your cup of tea, when you sit down to enjoy your cup of tea, your mind won’t know to be present.  It will be wandering ahead to the next thing.  And the next thing, and the next, if you are my mind.

So instead of a few minutes’ time to sit and enjoy a cup of tea, I am jumping to my feet, tea mug in one hand, phone in the other, to look up the phone number of the oil company (or the vet, or whatever it is that has suddenly become so urgent).  By the end of the day, I have a half-finished mug of cold tea I’m pouring into the sink, a tired mind, a weary heart, and a long list in my head of yet-unfinished tasks.

One night last week my husband and I were giving our children baths.  My husband was playing a bathtime  game with our foster son, which involved an unusual grouping of toys, running commentary from Papa, and water on the floor.

“Hey, mama,” my husband called, interrupting his explanation of what the whale, the lion and the captain were up to, “check this out.”

“Some of us,” I called from the changing table, where I was getting our now-clean daughter into her pj’s, “are trying to get babies to bed.”

“Some of us,” he called back to me, “are creating memories that last a lifetime.”

That is creating space.

January 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm 3 comments

beginning, again

It is such fun to teach the Intro to Yoga class at Upper Valley Yoga.

Each session I try to have a new framework for myself to teach around, a new way to organize myself.  I’ve used all kinds of structure to help me: the koshas, the eight limbs of yoga, a breakdown of the yamas and niyamas.  This time, I decided to use a few concepts behind the yoga, picking simplicity as the theme for our first day.

Simple doesn’t come easy to me.  I have a tendency to talk a lot, and get excited about the details, which can be fun and helpful, and overwhelming.  But if my intro students are doing something that’s new to them, and probably hard for them (coming to yoga class for the first time), then I can push myself into unfamiliar territory, too.

So, I headed into class with my teaching notebook open to the intro week one page, with only a few reminders about simplicity, the simplest of cues for a few postures, and a lot of blank space.  A visual reminder to myself: keep it simple; leave lots of space.

We started seated, practicing sitting up tall, reaching the hands out in front and overhead while leaving a lot of space for the neck and the shoulders.  Then we kept both sides of the body long as we arced to one side and the other.  Then we twisted, keeping the seat on the floor as we revolved the belly, chest and head in one direction, and the other.  Finally, we folded forward, staying long and open and keeping ourselves from folding in half at the ribcage or shoulders.

We moved to standing and did all the same things, this time with our feet underneath us.  We moved into a couple of standing poses: Warrior two (take your feet wide, bend your right knee as deeply as you can); Tree (stand and balance on two feet, then pick up your left put, place it on your right leg wherever you can).

We moved slowly.  I left big spaces without words.  I looked at my blank page.  Held my tongue.  Breathed.

It was hard work for everyone.  Yoga is not easy.  Simple is not easy.

I’ll keep you posted on the themes we use each week and how it goes.

Meanwhile, perhaps try simplicity in some aspect of your own day, whether in your practice, your work, or wherever you think it may be helpful, and if you have a chance, post here to let me know how it goes.

January 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm 3 comments

saying yes

We spent a happy and hectic weekend recently at my brother’s house, whose grown daughters no longer require baby gates and outlet covers.  One person was assigned at all times to our foster son, to keep his roving little feet and hands out of trouble.

Cheerful by nature, the poor boy cried with frustration more than once, irritated by the sharp tone of “no!” he heard again and again as he approached the stairs, the garbage can, the dog food dishes.

It’s wonderful to be back at home with our baby gates and cabinet latches and relatively baby-proof spaces.  Our son can once again roam his bedroom, playroom and our kitchen; the alluring dog and cat food dishes are safely on the other side of the gate; he is only occasionally accosted with a firm no.  Within the boundaries we set for him, it’s safe enough to let him explore and experiment.  We are of course always nearby, but we don’t have to be a half step behind him with a vigilant eye at all times.  I have more opportunities to say yes.

I like making resolutions, whether it’s at the new year, or around my birthday, or other times when I need to reassess and revitalize myself.  This new year, I am trying to shift my thinking about my resolutions, so that I can use them the way we do baby gates for our son–an opportunity to say “yes” to myself.

January 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment


No matter your religious beliefs or family traditions, this is a busy time of year, when more is being asked of us.  I was reminded of this on Saturday, when I arrived in our little town of White River Junction to teach class, and could not find a parking spot.  As I made my second lap around town, I waved to a couple of my students, engaged in the same activity, and passed the two churches who were holding their holiday bazaars that morning.

Fortunately, the busy downtown gave me a perfect opening into the theme I wanted to work with that morning in class: finding–and holding–both the energy and the relaxation of the practice.  Some poses lend themselves more easily to generating energy–the standing poses, for example, or backbending poses.  Some poses lend themselves more easily to finding the relaxation–child’s pose, supported poses, savasana.

Practicing and teaching this week, I’ve tried to find both the energy and the relaxation in every pose.  So a vigorous Warrior I can also be calming.  And a sleepy legs up the wall can be energizing.  And an extra lap around downtown can be…not so bad.

December 5, 2011 at 9:11 pm Leave a comment

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