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I Hear You, My Sister

I hear you.

You likening today to 9/11.

You asking for anyone who voted for him to never talk to you again.

Your tears.

Your shock.

Your dismay.

I hear you.

I have looked into your eyes and heard the stories of your hurt, your pain, your betrayal, your inability to speak up or get away or change what was happening in the moment.

His disturbing words were more than just words to you, more than someone else’s story, they took you back to that place, the one you have tried over and over to never return to.

You watched the numbers last night, and as they began to build, you saw each one as another endorsement, another reminder, another memory.

I hear you.

Can you take a moment to listen?

He is not him.

The numbers are not him, not all of them.

The country is not filled with hate for you.

There are so many voices in our modern world – the strong, convincing voices of nonstop reporting and social media convinces us that the loud voices are every voice, but there are other voices.

Hatred is howling, kindness is quiet.

Listen for the kindness.

Some fathers are kind.

Some brothers safeguard.

Some husbands are compassionate.

Some sons speak love.

Some teachers share truth.

Some friends stay true.

He is not every man, every man is not him.

Listen for the kindness.

Look for it.

Seek for it.

And if you don’t hear it, are you brave enough to seek it? To allow for the possibility? To see past the numbers to the people, to connection, to the others who may not be who the loud voices tell us they are?

And if you still struggle to see, to hear, to seek, to speak, can you create it?

Do you have a son you can teach and mold and mentor to live in compassion?

Can you look for a father showing kindness to his child? Perhaps acknowledge it to both of them.

Can you think of one man in your life who has shown you kindness? Consider thanking him.

Can you see one leader who shows compassion, patience, or respect? Maybe pray for him?

Can you, for one moment, invite the possibility of compassion from someone who is not him, or the newly elected him? Just allow the possibility to come into your heart?

Breathe.

Breathe again.

I hear you, my sister.

I see you.

I’m sorry you’re hurting.

Listen for the kindness.

It is calling to you from the quiet places.

Turn down the loud, and listen…

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Supplies for Starting a Yoga Practice

I often receive questions from students and friends about what they need to start practicing yoga. One of the things I have appreciated the most about practicing yoga for so many years is that it takes so little as far as supplies to practice, that you can practice literally anywhere! I’ve done yoga in hotels, airports, office buildings and hospital rooms. The three most important things you need to practice yoga are your BODY, your BREATH, and your MIND – all of which are ALWAYS with you!

That being said, there are a few supplies that can make your practice more comfortable.

  1. YOGA MAT – You can purchase a beginners yoga mat just about anywhere these days for a minimal investment. Most of these are fine in quality and will last about a year or two. If you become a more dedicated practitioner and start to practice daily, I strongly recommend the Manduka line of mats. They are such high quality that they have a lifetime guarantee. After literally shredding a dozen of the low quality mats you find in local departments stores, I made the investment in a Manduka mat and have never looked back. I especially liked that I could get a mat that is extra long and extra wide to fit my 6’0″ frame. You can find Manduka mats HERE.
  2. YOGA BLOCKS – Yoga blocks are super useful for modifying poses, bringing the earth up to meet our bodies, and offering support. You can find blocks made in a number of different materials, but my favorite are CORK blocks. They have a little more weight than the foam blocks and have seemed to last longer for me over the years. I recommend the Manduka or Gaiam foam blocks HERE. You can also purchase foam blocks at your local store that will work fine. Be sure to PURCHASE 2.
  3. BLANKET – You really can use any blanket you have in your home. Many studios use Mexican blankets because they can be folded in many specific ways for restorative yoga poses. If you want a Mexican blanket (or two), I like the ones from HERE.
  4. STRAP – You can use a belt from a robe, or tie men’s ties together. Anything long and sturdy will work. There are specific yoga straps that have buckles that are useful for some restorative and more Iyengar based practices. You can find yoga straps in most large stores in the fitness department. My favorite strap is the Manduka. I recommend the longer 8 foot one HERE, but if you have a smaller frame than me, the shorter strap may be sufficient. You can find the shorter 6 foot one HERE.

OTHER NICE PROPS

  1. BOLSTER – You can use pillows from home to support the body, but yoga bolsters are nice to elevate the seat in seated poses or support the knees as you rest. If you are going to purchase bolsters, I recommend a large round one HERE and a smaller rectangular one (or 2) HERE.
  2. EYE PILLOW – This is SO nice to have for rest. You can get them scented or unscented. I purchased mine from my favorite local yoga studio in Ohio, but you can find a nice one HERE.

WHAT ABOUT CLOTHES?

You can find yoga clothes anywhere. One of my favorite places to shop are closeout stores (TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall’s). You can find high quality gear at a fraction of the price. But honestly, just wear what is comfortable. Yoga shouldn’t be a fashion show (at least that’s my opinion). Wear something that you can move in, tighter fitting is sometimes better when you got to a studio because the clothing stays put as you move, but if you are practicing at home, wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.

Hope this helps!

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Making Space

I have been learning about making space.

One year ago today I was in Nebraska. I had sold my beloved home in Ohio, said goodbye to dear friends and left the students and yoga studio where I had taught for five years behind. I was driving into the unknown. I had a road map for where my car should travel, I had a home awaiting me in Washington, but beyond that my life was quickly becoming full of space. Lots of space.

We were moving for many reasons, primarily for a job transfer for my husband, but also for a slower pace of life for our boys. Our daughter was heading off to college and in the busyness of disengaging from my life in Ohio and coordinating a cross country move, I gently set the plans for my own life on hold until we were settled.

The summer was filled with unpacking, summer camps, college preparations and new business demands for my husband. I maintained a personal yoga and meditation practice, but I began to deeply miss my sangha – my yoga community in Ohio. I missed teaching, I missed taking class, and I missed sharing the wonderful energy and space with like minded, peace seeking people.

In the fall I was hired at a very small, local studio to teach two classes a week. The attendance was sparse at best, filled with mostly beginning students who had a mild curiosity about yoga. I tried for months to attend various other studios in town, but barriers were thrown in my path time and time again. One vivid memory was backing out of my driveway on a Saturday morning with just enough time to make it across town to class when my car wouldn’t cooperate. I got out only to see I had a flat tire. Thwarted again.

I became somewhat despondent as the bleak days of a long and hearty winter set in. I became resigned to the fact that this was now my life – teaching in a small, unknown studio with no chance to connect.

One day, in the midst of the gloom, I received an email from a downtown studio advertising a teacher training. I had been faculty at a training in Ohio and felt immediately that I should email the owner and ask if she was in need of faculty. I included a listing of courses I had taught there. Within minutes she emailed me back and said that the beginning course was fully staffed, but she had been wanting to develop and advanced training course and would I be interested in meeting with her. Would I?!

In the following months I was hired to develop and teach in this training. My small studio class began growing and growing. Students began requesting my private services and I expanded into online sessions. I met a man with a media company looking to develop online courses who wanted to partner with me in development. After almost a year of studio isolation, I was able to attend a local training and met an incredibly like minded yoga therapist who connected me with valuable resources. After months of feeling almost abandoned, I began to sense those connections returning in new and exciting ways.

Spring in Washington is heavenly. As the cold snow gently faded away, it was replaced with everlasting green. Trees, grass, shrubs, plants, and then there came the flowers. As the sun began to warm the earth again, life returned.

Today, I finally purchased flowers to fill my large pots that had been sitting lonely on my deck for weeks. As I filled the pot with soil, I could feel the warm earth on my hands. As I carefully removed the dahlias from their somewhat large container, I could see the roots beginning to bind. They were beautiful, flourishing there, but not for long. They needed new soil, a bigger pot. They needed space. The snapdragons and the long vines almost screamed as I separated their roots and divided them, leaving them space to flourish.

As I stepped back to admire my work, I said to my flowers, “You needed space.” Almost as an echo, I heard them respond, “You needed space.” I looked at the vibrant dahlias and could see, suddenly, that I had grown to my fulness in Ohio. I developed as a teacher, there. I began my formal yoga therapy studies and my private session work. I was happy, thriving, just like my dahlias, but not for long. I needed space in my life, space in my surroundings. I needed to be separated from my dear, close friends in order to make space for other connections that are growing here.

As I slowly poured the water on my tender, somewhat upset plants, I gently told them that now they had room to grow, to reach a fuller potential that if I had left them where they were. And I heard them whisper back, “As do you.”

Growing is painful and uncomfortable. It forces us to separate from our stability. We resist and often don’t understand the purpose of our experience. But oh, what beauty awaits us when we can welcome the space.