Monday, December 16, 2013

Repair Relationships

So I had to take two weeks off hot yoga right when I had intended to intensify my practice.  I had a back outage and then a bad plague like cold.    I finally made it back on the mat today.

I took a few extra minutes before we started to do some alternate nostril breathing.  You take two fingers on your right hand and take turns blocking off nostril sides by pressing on the side of the nose. You allow for one full in and out breath before you switch.  You stretch out the breath. All the time visualizing balancing your right and left sides and the breath.

So then I thought, what is the practice about today.  It leapt into my mind as the Sumit's practice began. Repairing Relationships.   The class was great. It was so humid that the mirrors were fogged for most of the class.  This was great for I felt I was looking through an unknown thinking how to work towards repair.  What would resonate with the ones I really wish I had better connections too.  As some bits and pieces came into view the fog let up some and then would come back in as the thoughts would be convoluted by reality and doubt.  

To put this into perspective.  As I watch most people around me are engaging the holiday  journey of travel, gift hunting, expectations and family.  Most people have a relative they are worried about seeing.  Maybe someone who disappoints or someone who is overly needy. Whether it is favoritism or alcoholism everyone is worried about some relationship they have with someone and how it will play out.  

I think of movies I love that portray this angst.  Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase and When will we eat.  They are both about this holiday journey one Christmas the other Passover but funny as hell and full of twists and turns that are just close to reality and yet hysterical.  

There is so much pressure from all sides to make these days so great.  Will everyone live up to the expectations.  Will someone press a button and send you to the moon on a rocket ship of family politics and baggage only to find yourself falling back to earth and wondering if it is time to leave yet. 

I say this year we all take a preemptive strike.  In stead of working up the 27 scenarios of how Aunt Sue may end up in a tissy over the stuffing, think about one person in your family, just one, that you would like to repair a relationship with.  It does not have to be huge or a full on intervention or anything. Just a step towards opening communication.  

Think of a way to make their day.  Bring them joy. Real joy they will remember not iTunes cash kind of joy.  Not to knock the iTunes cards folks. However more of a, doing something really cool for someone, something that will make their day.  This could be bringing them a foofy coffee drink they love or a picture of you and then as kids in a frame.  Think of something that can work to build new bonds, new credibility, new friendship, new memories, new connections.  

So when you feel the anxiety dragging into your head think of the great feeling you will get when you do something great for someone and let that be your barometer.  Think of creative repair technique for your situations.  I can't guarantee that your holiday will be perfect with the best of everything and no frustrations, but at least I can promise you will feel better about your part in it.

Good luck everyone and Bon Voyage.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Tonight at the Thanksgiving dinner table my 6 year old said that he was thankful for Sunday School. This brought a round of groans of despair from my 10 year old, not being so fond of the institution.   Joel went on to defend Sunday school and the synagogue saying "that without it how would we know about being jewish and all". 

In this same direction, In honor of Hanukah, my father sent out some thoughts about what this holiday means to him.   I would like to share with you on my blog.  With his permission here is a re-print of what this holiday means to him and the history of my family.

Last weekend I discussed with my 11 year old grandson what the holiday means to me and, I became quite emotional about that contemplation. So I decided to try and understand why I was feeling that way. Here is the story. 

I am not a religious person and my absence from synagogue for the high holidays did not bother me emotionally. My semi-traditional adherence to Jewish customs is occasionally circumvented with a delicious back-bacon sandwich at the Market. So, I was quite surprised that I started to have a verystrong reaction to having a traditional Hanukah celebration this year.

I think it was the word, Maccabees that triggered my feelings. I mentioned to my grandson that to me, Hanukah was a celebration of a small Israeli tribe led by Yehudah the Maccabee defeating the Greek army and regaining their land and reoccupying their temple, that was the symbol of their tribes existence. A small battle 2176 years ago seemed to have an emotional significance for me, and I have now been able to understand better why.

I was born in Scotland in 1938. For the first seven years of my life, I existed in the turmoil of the Second World War. I didnt understand what was going on, but certain issues lodged themselves in my memory. One of these was the organization that my father belonged to and was very active in, that Jewish organization was called the Maccabeem. The Maccabeem was a Jewish sports-social club that focused on health and fitness and self-reliance, rather than prayer and traditional Jewish pursuits. The Maccabeem was closely tied to the Israeli Zionist movement and their original pledge was I think something like, We shall overcome through strength. All through my childhood, I must have been exposed to Hanukah where my father, his brothers and any others all compared the feats of the ancient Maccabeem with their world.

At the end of World War II, when the scope of the Holocaust became common knowledge, six million people killed because they were affiliated with the Jewish religion. The motto of the Scottish social club, The Maccabeem, changed to add, Never Again to the original We shall overcome through strength. My father was so dedicated to this cause that he immigrated to Israel to assist in fighting in the War of Independence. Shortly thereafter my mother and the three children joined him there. My father gave up a thriving furniture manufacturing business and much more to follow in the footsteps of the Maccabee. By that time, I was eleven, my grandsonscurrent age, and I did not really understand the depth of my fathers commitment or my mothers willingness to leave behind a large family (nine brothers and sisters and their offsprings) and all her world that she knew to follow the spirits of the Maccabee.

I remember when the Israeli government put in place the Jewish Olympics and called it the Maccabiah. My father, who was still active in the movement in Israel, arranged for me, I believe I must have been14 or 15, to receive the Torch that was carried by athletes to the stadium in Ramat- Gan and to make two loops of the stadium carrying the torch before passing it on to a wounded veteran to complete the final loop and to light the Eternal Light.

Somewhere inside me, this sequence of events has lain dormant until this year when I mentioned to my grandson that Hanukah was about the deeds of the Maccabeem more than a religious event.  

Reality caught up with my parents in Israel, and inability to earn a living, led to our eventual relocation to Canada and to my existence here.

So, it is surprising how a single word or two can trigger emotional feelings and memories long buried.

None of you have experienced this existence, but in honour of the Maccabeem, the beliefs and actions of my father, and the festival of Hanukah, I am passing on my feelings and recollections.

Chaim ben Aria

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It is time to change my record.

Guilt busting. Saying No.  It all comes down to having the courage to stand your ground.  Where does this courage come from?   Many sources bring about such courage. The one that I have been working with is the internal courage.  Most of us have a recording running in our heads with things or mantras we repeat about yourselves.  Maybe we are not tall enough, cute enough, thin enough, brave enough.  We are often our worst critics.  This message is often subconscious and can be the accumulation of years of baggage, relationships, head trips etc..  This recording is ruthless, strong and well dug in. 

Often when I am on the mat I will be looking at my self in the mirror and the recording will play.  The posses and the yoga clothing are not the most flattering gear for someone of my size and shape.  Maybe they would work under a moo-moo or something but not by themselves. So I end up berating myself subconsciously without even knowing it.   I will be working on a poss and all I may be thinking is belly... belly... bellyyyyyyy.  

So one of the steps in guilt busing is changing the recording in your head.  For the last three yoga classes I have intentionally been working on changing this message one occurrence at a time.   The first class was rather hard.  Not only did I focus on stopping the message, but on re-writing it in a much more favorable direction.   Each time I became aware of the old recording I would give myself props for being there, working hard, listening to my body, and loving myself.  Each time as I would become aware of the message I would purposely assess the situation and give myself credit for being present.  

At the end of the practice I felt like I had done a mental practice as well as a physical one, exhausting and positive.   I was not sure if this was something that would get easier or would be a constant battle.  The next class it came a little easier with less negative messages being produced.  It was a little easier to re-direct. 

Today's class was the third since I started this re-writing of my internal record.  I was much less distracted by the process.  I did not have to think about it and found myself much more proud of me.  The new record of power, strength, accomplishment, and love was playing in the background. I am not saying it was the only record, but it did get some air play.  

This record has been playing for a long long time but as my dad once said "Time is going to pass anyway."  Why not make this time work towards peace of mind, courage and self love.  I hope from this will come an inner core that is strong, brave and powerful.  Join me in this quest next time you are on the mat. 

Namaste... peace out. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

How is your "NO" doing these days.  Does it feel crunched down by resentment and self control, or is it full freak flag flying hanging out the window.   Some of us can say no without the blink of the eye while others keep adding to their plate unable to reject even the most mundane of tasks.   I am not particularly good at saying "NO".  Even my no's are maybe's really.  "I can't do that right now but keep me in the loop."  Is it because I don't want to miss out on what is happening or am that desperate not to disappoint.

My freshman development is tackling this subject.  There are 22 bright faced ladies ready to learn to say no.  How would it change the world if we taught our daughters how to set boundaries enough to not follow in our overwhelmed foot steps.   For them to be able to say 'wow that is a great idea but I can't help, or just the simple 'no thanks'.  

We feel the need to explain why we have to say 'no'.  Can't we just say 'no'!?  What will happen if we just say 'no' and leave it at that?  No. 

There certainly is a time to say Yes.  One can not be an island on to oneself without collaboration and community.  However at some point even the most well meaning person gets over the top and stops being effective at getting anything done with quality.  

Usually the first thing to go is the personal time for exercise, friends or self actualization.   The 'yes'  person gets resentful of even being asked one more thing, no matter how small, and then chides them self for getting upset at such a simple request... I must be able to add more in somewhere.   

Is it the person who is asking fault for having the audacity to ask or is it our fault for not tactfully refusing.  What will the consequences really be if we say "no thanks".    

No! Not now, Not ever.  Not interested.  @#$# no. Just practicing.  

So while we do this unit on 'no', I will try to impart some wisdom and maybe, just maybe learn a thing or to.  So next time you ask me to join your team, take on a project, or just get you a glass of water... don't be offended if I say no... be proud.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Types of Sorry

So Yom Kippur takes the cake for types of Sorry. There is a prayer that is said 10 times throughout the Yom Kippur services including evening services, morning, afternoon, etc... It is called Al Chet which is a good name for it.  Al Chet sounds like a southerner saying what they feel about the situation.  The purpose is to help you go beyond the usual ways we have messed up.  The big ones you remember, the ones others have done to you you remember, but what about all the ones you don't remember.

The prayer contains many many many types of things you could be sorry for.  I am going to pick some and give them a try.  

"For the sin which we have committed under duress or willingly.

And for the sin which we have committed by hard-heartedness.

For the sin which we have committed inadvertently."

This is not your usual sin stuff here. This is behavioral more that situational. 

For the sins which we have committed under duress or willingly.  That sure does cover a lot of things.  Many of the sins of history have been committed under duress or so the books say.  There certainly are things I have done that I considered under duress however that does not absolve the results or actions of the situation.  One that comes to mind is having to fire an employee that you otherwise did not want to fire due to the direct command of a boss etc... The employee was no less out of a job and no less hungry or out of rent.  You may not always have a choice in your actions but you can apologize and feel the wrongness of the situation.  Maybe even learn from the situation and realize that the employee may have been the warning that you may just be next.  

And for the sin which we have committed by hard heartedness. Once an action is done it is done, however at times we do consider the level of our heartedness in the situation.  There are those people one has no patience for.  Maybe that person is a family member, spouse, work associate or a child.  However the person we are usually most hard hearted to is ourselves.  We may give and give to others until there is nothing left, however then there is nothing left for ourselves either.    Self doubt is such a strong little monster sitting on ones shoulder, making us make poor decisions about food, exercise, careers, etc etc the list goes on and on.  Maybe an apology to ourselves is in order too.   

For the sin which we have committed inadvertently.  This is a hard one.  The Webster dictionary defines inadvertent as unintentional or inattentive. There are so many things that I have done wrong and may not have meant it or may not even know I have done it.  Who does one apologize to for things you have done that you did not foresee the outcome or were not aware of actions or results.

The moment that comes to mind is when I have been fed up with my kids and said something that ends up hurting their feelings without knowing.  You can't always see peoples reactions to your behavior, especially when you are not aware your actions effected them. Another one is first thing in the morning when I am mamasauras and not fit company as I growl my way through the house till I feel better.  For these sins maybe we just need to give extra love to those around us and try to be conscious of how our emotions and personality inadvertently effect others.

Hopefully this personal audit will help with personal growth sharing and love.  Stay tuned for some more as the days lead up to Yom Kippur.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Personal Audit Explained - Shana Tova Folks

Shana  Tova ve metuka. Welcome to 5774.  Happy Jewish New Year.  What does it mean to me and why am I going on about it?

Rosh Ha Shana is the celebration of the birth of the year.  Yet there is an interesting twist to this seemingly innocent holiday.  It is not just a birthday party full with food and celebration, it is also the beginning of the yearly personal audit.   If you think of it, how often does one actually audit their behavior or their selves? One does taxes each year, maybe re-quote car insurance every once and a while, even re balances the portfolio every few years. Yet many religions have this kind of a reflection period at different times in their cycles.  It plays an-anthropological  role in the human Psyche.  

For Jews between now and Yom Kippur,11 days hence, one is to consider what they have done. One looks at any situations they might wish to bring to a close or reconcile with a nicely placed "I'm sorry" or determination to do things a little differently in the year to come. One's reconciliation is to be between oneself and the injured party not between a person and god.  This is a very human level of exchange, which in a way, has great potential to actually change and make things better in here and now.   It is kind of proactive encouragement to take care of ones personal baggage on a yearly basis. 

Of course as humans there is only so far we are going to take this and even if all one does is spend a short time considering the pro's and con's of your choices, over a yoga practice or two, it is a good investment in personal growth. Thankfully no forms to submit or calculations to do.      

Well we have just had two very lovely evening dinners with friends.  I made wonderful food that everyone enjoyed.  The kids ate the least, being too happy to play with each other to eat.  The adults enjoyed good food, conversation and some wine.  Really good fun was had by all.   This year my husband and I have been struggled with a rough cold which slowed us down a little, tossing some road blocks in the way.  Yet, with a little luck and some great project management skills, I was able to make a meal fit for royalty and a warm environment that welcomed friends. 

Now the reflection needs to start.  Here come some blogs ladies and gentlemen.   

Monday, August 26, 2013

Girls oh Girls...

Happy 93rd anniversary of Women's Right to vote in the USA.  

So the debate on Facebook, started by my mother, is about the term Girls.  When is it appropriate to call someone a girl?   There are my girls, the women I hang with and lord knows where I would be without my girls.   By the way, thank you each and every one of you.    If I had girls children there would be my girls, however only boys here; that is a good use of the word girls.

Let's call it out folks. We are not talking about my girl friends or children or a ethnic or cultural use of the word.  We are talking about when full grown lady/women are being called a girl due to conscious or unconscious lack of respect.  The girls at the office, my girl, would you girls...  The same girls that would be pregnant and lifting a Culligan bottle into its tank while the Dr. in question was busy reading a research journal.  

This use of terminology to control the image of people, that may work for and with a person, has not been something that is exclusive to men, although it has been more prevalent.    When I have encounter this in my job history, it generally surprised me, offended me and was out of line.  As I generally remarked negatively, when it was used, it was not repeated in my presence. 

Emotional Unintelligent 20's answer "Last time I checked I have had my period for at least XX number of years so I am not a or your girl."

Emotionally Intelligent 40's answer "While one always wants to look younger, and I appreciate that you feel I have aged well, I would no longer consider myself a girl and would prefer to be known as your worthy team mate and work associate." 

More often I would see someone else being termed my girls or the girls, referring to a work house of effective multitasking women that generally were keeping many business going.  This army of efficient women were amazing, and without which, the man in question, would be shaking his head in terminal frustration.  

In tribute to those women and the women of 93 years ago that worked diligently to give us these rights, to the women who kept the movement alive and to those that need to take it into the future I give you two clips:

Who remembers the movie 9 to 5 without seeing Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin take on their boss for just such behavior.   Or this clip, turning a rooster into a hen.

Then there is Mary Poppins classic of our sisters fighting the fight across the sea. 

Keep it real ya' all. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And the Semester Starts.

I rarely talk about my profession as a Professor at Stephens College in Columbia MO.   However today is the first day back at school.  Stephens is a very unique educational environment and draws a unique student. The school is a small college in a big college town, it is all women and has been around since the 1830's.  We have small classes and intense student faculty connections.  I advise students as well as teach and frankly I love it.

I wanted to mention how amazing it is to teach all women.  No offence intended Dudes.  Yet these ladies have made the choice to come to Stephens and be in an all women environment. There are many reasons  they choose it, course offerings, environment, freedom, legacy, connections etc.... What ever their reasoning, I want to congratulated them for taking this journey.

So my first class today was Lead Her Ship. This is a freshman experience course focusing on the skills we need to navigate the professional world as women.  It is going to be great fun.  Today we launched the class and watched a YouTube video with an 2011 interview with Gloria Steinem   It is a great kick off.

Some things to think about from this video:

  • We can't have equality in the work place until we have equality in the home. 
  • Quantity of women in the work place is not quality of jobs held by women. 
  • The Pink Ghetto is made up of jobs we can't or will not outsource.  
  • Poor women always had two jobs, one in the work place and one at home, now most women have two jobs.  
  • Women do not need to become men in the work force. It is not about integrating into a not so good system it is about transforming to a better system.
  • Patriarchy is the control of women's reproductive rights in an effort to restricting bodies of superior group while exploiting the bodies of inferior groups to maintain class and exploit cheep labor.

This semester is going to be such good fun.  Look forward to lots of great stuff coming your way.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Emotional Intelligence vs the Puddle.

Are you emotionally intelligent?

"No, next question." says my husband.  "None of us are."
What is emotional intelligent?  Is it a state of unawareness of the social cues around you, is it narcissism, is it a fine line of discrimination, or is it a bend toward drama and politics.  

How many times have you heard the argument that women are too emotional? Plenty of men are as well, however that is generally dismissed as testosterone enforced machismo. Yet, I can not deny that when I feel emotions it can be hard to control things. Such as if I am really angry I may cry, however if I am really sad I may also cry.  Guess what, a bit too much sappy happiness or any Walt Disney and there I am again crying.  I recently went to a funeral for a work associate's son and I cried throughout the mass, yet I had never met the deceased.  

I can say that over the last couple of decades of work life I have seem my emotional intelligence IQ increase.  I no longer automatically volunteer that opinion, I think about what I am going to say, and frankly just leave some things sitting out there in the open and allowing the silent chatter to be silent.  I know that a few years back, I would not have been able to leave those juicy bits out there.  Either strategic thinking, wisdom, balance or calm sure have made it easier to get through the labyrinth.    Yet I am no where near perfect, there is a long way to go for me.  

Part of it is cultural, one has to admit.   East Coast Brashness, Mid American Sensibilities, West Coast Ease, Northern Directness, and Southern Charm all play their roles.  Then there is Canadian Sarcasm, and Mexican Spice, African American Directness, Jewish Guilt and Wit, Asian Customs and Respect, European Sophistication, Israeli Forthrightness....  When you are workwith people from various cultures some understanding has to be made for the passions of the variety.   Yet to progress in the business world the skills of emotional intelligence are vital and one needs to have an understanding of the multicultural playing field and where the predominant cultural is lays.  

I will not lie, this was hard for me.  I was a big city girl from an immigrant family, a Jew and a  immigrant myself to this country.  So this translated to a sophisticated, brash, witty, guilt ridden, sarcastic, direct, forthright, woman with a slowly climbing emotional intelligence in a totally different cultureal relm.  

Now narcissism is just a reality.  As outward focused as we can be, there is part of us that is here to advance ourselves.  This aspect of human nature is part of what keeps us at the top of the food chain.  Yet some folks are just way too narcissistic for their own good.  This is the person that is so caught up in their own drama that they offend everyone near them.  Like having a skinny friend tell you how fat they feel and how you could never understand, mean while your have not been their size since you were 12.  The thing about narcissism is that people don't tend to out grown it, frankly they don't get much better in their lives. Their subjective reality is just too strong to take into considerations others around them.  They generally either end up running the show or self-destructing. 

So how to we attain this mythical emotional intelligence? 
1) Cut the drama.  Take a step back and breathe. Don't engage it, it will go away. 
2) Don't cry at the office.  Keep the extreme emotions for the drive home.  Road rage here we come.
3) Keep your emotional guards up to some extent. You do not need to tell the entire story, keep most details to yourself.   
4) Don't throw trash where you eat. So don't poison your environment at work with negative vibes or sentiment. Especially keep away from negativity about past work places.  Only bring up past stuff if it is essential. 
5) Know that it is not personal, it is business.  You are only as valuable as your last project success. 
6) Upset? Write the email... then don't send and erase it.  Again Breathe
7) Think Strategic not emotionally. Again Breathe
8) Did I say don't take it personal?  Well that one is worth hearing twice.

Good luck, but remember that when you are out of work, and life is chill, you can let your emotional intelligence slip and jump in a puddle or two.  :)   


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can you say "NO"?

So the new Semester starts in a few days.  My blog is going to take on a new twist and include some subject matter inspired by a classes I am creating and teaching.  One such class is a First Year Experience Class, called Lead Her Ship. This class along with a bunch of other classes in this series have an overarching theme of Society and Self.  This particular section is a Women's Studies class.  The Class will focus on the Women's Professional Journey.  The class is for an all women's college and will be a blast.   My goal is to help these young women, building their tool kits to carry them through their career, acquire some of the knowledge, skills and outlooks that will help them maneuver themselves to their goals what ever they may be.

In this process I guess the Disgruntled Feminist may have some disgruntled thoughts about what holds women back, both within ourselves and from the outside.  I may even get grumpy and ramble on a bit about lack of respect, hurdles and discrimination.  I apologize ahead of time, but welcome to the ride.  Maybe we will all learn a thing or two or become more aware.  We shall have to see.

I may refer to women mostly in my descriptions, but know that I know that many men may also feel these feelings and may be able to grow or learn from the techniques mentioned. Buck up little soldiers... oooohhh that was stereotypically gender discriminatory.  Poor dudes.  

One Topic I am researching, and I have begun to enjoy, is how Women have a really hard time saying "NO".  I can attest to this being true.  I am absolutely terrible at saying no.  When asked to help out with something I mostly say yes. This could be at work, from the synagogue, the kids schools, friends, etc..  I don't like to say no for many reasons.  It makes me feel uncomfortable. I know I will do a great job.  There frequently is no one else to do the task.  I want people to think well of me.   I know if I help others that when I am in need others will help me. On and on and around and around the mulberry bush we go.  So my plate is often over flowing with things to do.  Need something done ask a busy person. 

I am not alone in this.  I know many, many people, and women in majority, that find themselves in this position.  This is not a value judgement, just a fact.  So how do we learn to say "NO".  In the book Womenomics they talk about saying no without guilt.  There it is, the elephant in the room.  GUILT.  I have a hard time saying no without guilt.  I come from a strong Jewish home.  I was raised on the stuff.  I can still hear my Grandmother aka Boobie, saying " I could be dead, three days, no one would know, no one calls, no one stops by, they'll find my body, laying there...." 

So the book says to say it creatively.  "That sounds like a great project, I wish I could help, however my schedule is full right now."  Or "I wish I could help but we have a family policy about eating dinner together on XXX night."  "That sure sounds great, here are my priorities right now, if you want me to take this on, can I get the XXX report to you a week late instead?" 

It also said to say no early.  That gives the person time to find someone else.  I have a tendency to drag it on as I don't want to confront and disappoint.  Then it is too late and I have to do it or mess it up for everyone.   I had not thought of dealing with it early.   I am often busy avoiding the impact and just scheduling it in somewhere there in between sleep and making pickles.  

So can I say no creatively, timely, and with an understanding for which projects are priorities vs extraneous? We will see.  Sorry in advance if I refuse your request.  It might just be me practicing saying no.  I might get good at it.  Will the world stop rotating on it's axes, or will I experience more control over my life and time.  I'll put keep you posted on my task list... 

New Instructors and a welcome home

We made it back.  Yes, back in town, for the upcoming semester and back to yoga.  It had been 2 1/2 weeks without hot yoga; a little yoga here and there but no hot yoga and nothing consistent.

I returned to Sumit Columbia my home practice.  I admit I was scared.  I was scared of the heat and of the extreme work out.  As I got to class I noticed that Katie Wear was the instructor.  This Spring Sumit had an instructor training and now all the new instructors and getting their sea legs and building their strength as instructors. They have proved themselves with double works outs for weeks and a rigorous in class preparation.   Yet they each need to get their cadence and feel their strength.  

So Katie, is a sweetheart. She was often present at the 9:00 class that I frequented for months.  She worked really hard and had achieved some serious flexibility.  Now she was teaching the class.  It was exciting to see how she felt the strength of the class and was letting it fly.  You could tell she was a little hesitant occationaly, as any new instructor would be, but she was connecting with her students and watching for adjustments. She was complimenting people that did well and in control of the room.  She was moving from knowing it to internalizing it.  I enjoyed her class.  I look forward to watching her as she lets her wings fly.  

Before I went away I had Molly Sutton as an instructor and she was really quite good. She had the routine down pat and a strong rhythm.  She had seen the strength of the practice for herself and some of her family members.  She was driven to share this amazing journey.  She was inspired and was passing that on to her class.  She was on the schedule a lot and it showed in her proficiency. 

Today I did a practice with Axton.   Let me preface this with the fact that Axton's Mom is probably the strongest and tightest of the teachers.  Her yoga background is a mile wide and a mile thick.  She has a background in Bikrum and is chiseled and strong.  She is the wonderful lady who told me there was no room for failure when doing a 30 day challenge. She is the one that says Push, and push, and push.   So Axton has some pretty big feet to fill.  

So Axton was leading the class with Emily in the class helping him with temperature control etc, as a great mother does for her child.  Axton knew the script, and in his voice I could hear the strength of his Mother.  His voice had a great tone and I could see him adjusting with the people's needs.  He did go a little fast as he was nervous.   Yet he naturally added a point that made me think.  Most new teacher are too worried about script to add anything deep.   Axton said, when we were in Tree that if you swayed that was OK because trees swayed like that. It was comforting and it was said with a Winnie the Pooh kind of empathy.  It showed the Yogi Axton has the potential to be, to fly beyond or with the mother bird as we hope all of children will do.   

Good luck to all the new instructors.  I am sure I will have the pleasure of practicing with many soon.  It is good to be back.      

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yoga under the stars and thunder in the mountains

I got to do Yoga for the first time on this trip last night.   It was about 10:30 at night when I finally had time to drag out my mat.  I say drag because I was already exhausted.  According to my new Fitbit, which I will talk about in a later post, we had walked over 7 miles already that day. We had visited the mighty Mammoth Springs at the North Entrance of Yellowstone park.  We had also hiked to a hot spring that poured into Yellowstone River and had soaked for a couple of hours.   After getting back to our cabin, making a great dinner and getting the kids to bed I was rather done.   Yet I knew I needed to do some yoga.  Todd, my husband, was encouraging me to get down and stretch. 

So I put on the standing series recording that I had purchased from the Moksha in Toronto and put my mat out on the front porch.  If I was going to do this I wanted it to be outside under the stars.  I was so tired so knew I was not going to be able to do the entire 90 minutes.   I started strong doing many standing poses watching the starts in the sky and feeling the energy of the mountains around me.   The clouds rolled in and eventually lightning started to light up the night sky.  This was also very energizing.   Of course once the rain started in earnest I moved inside and finished up with some floor work.   

I certainly felt all the hiking we had been doing with tight worn out legs.  Yet the sense of peace that came over me once I was done was tremendous.   I fell sleep with ease and slept hard.   Doing yoga to the recording from Moksha was really quite nice.  I know I changed some of the poses up a little to go more with my Sumit poses but most of them were pretty similar.   

Doing Yoga, with it's deep breaths and centering qualities seems appropriate here in the mountains where Mother Earth's energies seem to flow out of the earth and sky like the geysers and hot springs that have immortalized this area.  These is magic in the air and land and I plan to harness it all I can while I am here through Yoga, Meditation and connection to Nature.   

Team mom thank you very much.

So we have been traveling across the county with the boys on the family vacation. We are right out of the grizwalds but add in iPads. After four days, I have experienced something interesting.  Team mom. What does this mean? Well as we went to these places I saw families everywhere dealing with the same issues we had been; Kids with way too much energy and testing boundaries in a sleep deprived sugar buzzed frenzy.

So, as we traveled through these, Wonders of the World, such as the Badlands in SD, Mount Rush, and then Devils Tower, I had been comforted by Team Mom.  At the Badlands, when the kids were pushing boundaries and trying to climb these huge structures with nothing but crocks on, I looked to the sky  and asked for help and patience not to scream at my kids one more time. A Mom came up to me and said "Don't worry you are almost there, in a couple more years they will stop that constant bickering."  She had four kids in her brood and they were not currently killing each other, crying or screaming like mine were.

Another time when the kids were fighting over some nonsensical nothingness, another mother came up to me and told me I was doing a good job.  This really meant a lot to me.   I was trying to work out their problems and barely hanging on to my temper by the skin of my teeth.   Just this simple 'you are doing a good job', made all the difference.

The third time a Mom gave me a boost, was again at the Badlands. The kids were climbing something they could easily have fallen to their death from and I had just finished telling them they had to come down.   I told them that I had given them the freedom to climb, and they did not want me to regret giving them the freedom.  The reality was, there was no way I could have gone up there and gotten them down, so I had relying on their sense of honor to stop when I said it was high enough.   Another mother came up to me and said "Amen Sister" and then told her kids the same thing.

These interactions felt so good.  I will never see these women again.  Yet each one of them gave me a little strength to think maybe, just maybe, I am not nuts and will make it through the current parenting challenges of, traveling across country with the family.

Thanks Team Mom.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reflection and a fever of 103

I disappeared for a few days, and I mean disappeared.  I had a flu of some sort that took me out.  I slept practically around the clock for almost three days.   Feel much better now and looking forward to getting back to working out tomorrow.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share this experience and help others in search of health and balance.  Another was to share my ever present silent chatter with those willing to read it.  Today's post will live up to those two ideals as usual.

Lately I have seen, heard about, read posts and emails from friends and family getting into yoga and many hot yoga.  Many friends along the way have joined me on this quest for balance and health.  Sometimes they join me for one class, some times they start a new journey of their own. Each one is on their own quest but maybe just maybe I helped open a door or reinforce a choice.  

I know that in my mind everyone is reading this blog and is as jazzed up about it as I am.  In reality folks are busy, they have their own lives, challenges and dreams.  Yet when I see several of my friends talking back and forth on facebook about trying out their local bikram or sweating it up in Yoga it makes me smile.   This is not a solitary journey.  The presence of more studios all the time shows that this is a movement.

Recently at the shiva for my grandmother my cousin Robin and I connected on our love of 'hot' as she calls it.  Robin is a Dr. in private practice with three kids and a busy world.  She does 'hot' as she calls it three times a week.  From experience she recognizes the healing power of the practice.

A friend and previous work associate of mine, Beth, recently commented about sweating it up in her yoga class that she started attending. It is a class that is helping her gain flexibility and start her on the journey. She also is a busy mother with a demanding job and has begun to find time for yoga.

Mary, a friend of mine that practiced with me on the Yoga Road Trip has continued to do classes at her local studio as well as doing classes at home when she does not have time to fit in a class.   She is regaining strength.

Jennifer another mother of boys juggling a busy work world and life.  She started taking classes proving to herself how strong she is and what she is capable of.

Recently a friend of my Sarah joined me for a class in Columbia. She has been doing yoga for years but has just recently started trying hot yoga.  It was her fourth class and she made it through the entire class for the first time.  She rocked it out and is very flexible.

My brother Daniel has started doing water yoga at his local health center.  I regret I did not have time to try that with him when I visited.  However, I am so happy for him that he is getting into it.  It is a great opportunity for him.

Then there is Pam doing check ins at her local Bikram and other friends swearing to join her.  The movement is spreading.

Jeanne a great friend has been doing yoga for years and swears by it.  She has the best posture of anyone I have ever known.   I have not yet got her into a hot class but the day will come.  Mwhahahahaha (evil laugh)

Then there are the yogi's that I know:  Shelby an old high school friend living the wise life and running a studio back home.   Renata, and old friend from junior high living in Barcelona and running a studio while she also dances flamenco.  

Then there are those just getting started in learning.  A dear friend is in the final steps of signing up for a great yoga training in curvy yoga.  I can't wait for her to do that training so I can learn as many adjustments as possible.  

I know I am missing many people in this log.   I hope I am missing even more as more and more get into this amazing journey.  Enjoy everyone and keep me posted on your progress.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

North York Moksha.

Wow.  I had a great class today at North York Moksha.   I met a great person named Elliott.  He was working behind the desk and had a great aura to him.  More about his views on yoga later.   The class was a one hour pose class.  So over the last few weeks I have been able to do a 90, 75 and 60 minute Moksha pose only class.  I have really gotten an interesting exposure to it and now feel more comfortable with that concept.   I got the CD for the 90 although i think I would prefer the 60 with some added flow sequences.

During this class and yesterday's I learned an interesting modification.  When you are in butterfly instead of having your feet facing you can grab your feet and use your thumbs to kind of peal the feet open.  The pealing open accomplishes the knees pushing down without any pressure on the actual knees.  Totally cool.  A few good breaths lowering down straight back and then a few curling down to get a little lower,  all the while using your hands and thumbs to peal open the feet to the ceiling.  Great modification and allowed me to open the hips more and get lower.  

The other thing I really like about this practice is the beginning breathing exercise. Hard to describe but there is an opening sequence where you start with your hands in prayer and intertwine the fingers as you lower them down into an almost cracking your knuckles point at the bottom... total exhale archived.  Then you lift the arms by pressing out in front of you in an arch up to above your head total inhale archived.  Then you switch to prayer pose with your hands and slowly lower.  Repeat a bunch of time taking as long as possible to breath.   

So after class I got to talk to Elliott who was working the desk.  (Elliott, when you read this, if I am way off base please comment as your worlds were much better than mine.) I was picking up the CD when we struck up a yoga conversation, one of those deep meeting of the minds like the vulcan mind meld.  Anyway,  we talked about two subjects.  One was kids yoga and the other was a great bit about uncomfortable poses and their links to the introversion vs extroversion dichotomy.  

So firstly Kids Yoga.  Elliott teaches some kids yoga classes and was talking about how the kids get to really open up in a win win situation where there is no competitive focus.  In our world where the kids are battling everything from tops to dragons to Pokemon, Yoga provides a unique environment where kids can focus on personal practice and group energy and experience.   It strengthens them to resist injury, increase flexibility, and develop coordination.  My oldest Jordan has wanted to try yoga for some time.  There is a yoga place in columbia that offers kids classes.  I will look into it and report back in a future blog post.  

Then Elliot talked about in these classes he uses yoga to help reach those kids that are always active, talking, the extraverts and helps to teach them stillness and control while also reaching he introverts to help them reach knowledge and confidence.  He talked about the kid that spent the entire class watching the practice, did not participate but watched.  Then went home and taught it ot his parent.  This is the introvert that must internalize before action.  

We talked about the camel or big sperm pose where you lean back and open the heart chakra up to the sky.  Most of the time I leave that pose early feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable, unstable, maybe even mad.  The energy of that chakra has a lot to express.  So Elliot says he challenges his students to lay still after that pose and see if they can do it.  The extroverts will have a hard time with this, adjusting their clothing, hair, etc.    

He goes on to reflect on the skill that can be grown to push through the discomfort, angst etc with stillness and growing that skill to take-on out side the classroom. He talked about how instead of letting those feelings control you, you can control your reaction and harness positively, to help to deal with uncomfortable situations to gain strength and calm.  Using Yoga to grow strength and clam and balance in the outer world is a great benefit of practice.  He said it better but I can't remember the exact words.  It is the skill of not to react in dangerous situations like telling off someone at work or in a politically charged situation , if you can learn to control yourself there,  you can save yourself and everyone else a lot of trouble. I think I have the feeling of it and I can say 100% that I have felt the benefits of this in my world. I will try to work this the next time I do this position. Thanks to Elliott and my visiting practice in Toronto at Moksha North York.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Katie Flacks 1913-2013

Heading back up to Toronto as my grandmother passed away.  She was 99 years old and had the good health and luck to have been well and cognitive up until the last short weeks.  Katie Taylor was born in 1913 in Scotland.  She grew up there, married Louis Flacks, had three children, two boys and a girl.  My Father, at age 75 is the oldest child.  

My grandmother was the last of her line, the last on her husbands side as well  She had self admittedly outlived everyone she knew of her generation. Her husband had died 17 years prior when I was dating my husband and he was living on Dorsey in that broken down basement apartment that my Mother would not even walk into. LOL. I remember standing in that basement reading the mourner's prayer for my grandfather.  Along with other reasons, I did it because I knew my Dad needed it done and because the framework of mourning has ritual, structure and purpose.  It is proven by the test of time and the generations before us.  

Just think of the things she saw in her life.  In 1947 they moved to Israel to help the zionist movement.  They had experienced WWII with bombing raids and rations.  Moving to Israel promised more bombs, fighting and rations, however they did it anyway to help the dream become a reality.   After a number of years my grandmother decided to visit to her sister in Toronto as she could not handle the hardships of Israel's early days any longer.  A one month visit, became a three month visit,  having planted the seeds of a dream to move again.    Within a couple of years they moved to Canada before my father turned 18.  

She lived in Toronto for the rest of her life spending winters in Florida for about 20 years in retirement.  She worked for a very short time when they first immigrated. I remember going to florida and sitting on her porch watching for alligators in the ponds counting and recounting the ducks. The last few years she lived in an extended care environment with her own apartment and meals provided downstairs.  She only started to decline recently with a growing cancerous tumor and various other issues. 

I remember she used to do lot of crocheting when she was younger.  She made the same big square blanket over and over always with acrylic.  As she got older she could not work the needle and gave it up.  I brought some yarn and needles to keep me occupied during the shiva in tribute. Keep the yarn flying fiber artists.  However, I refuse to use acrylic, not my style. 

About a year ago, on one of my summer visits I decided to record her conversation.   The 17 minutes of voice note will be a great reminder of the women that was, and the lives that have been changed.  II have passed that on to my folks.

For myself I am in travel wary state. What did this all mean for my family of origin? My father as the most devoted son, was always there for his mother, visiting weekly and always making his mother a priority as he does with all his family.   What does it mean to lose this last central member of his family unit of that generation. It makes you think about the family unit and how it evolves within different cultures and spans of time.   

My family like all are a mix of cultures and influences from passionate cultures and repressed ones alike.  Reflecting on that mix, along with expectations and realities has been my focus during my practice in Toronto.  I managed to do a practices at Moksha Thornhill, a 75 minute pose class which was wonderful.   Now that I know what to expect it is much more interesting.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bringing the modifications home

We arrived home Sunday night exhausted and rung out like an old schmata (Yiddish word for dish rag) after cleaning day.  I admit I was road wary, however very glad to be back in my world. I unhooked from parental control as my husband scooped in and took on the boys. They all missed each other and commenced male bonding rituals, like a good game of trap or attack Dad.

I walked around my garden marveling at how wonderfully everything was growing. Cucumbers dripping off the vines and lots of good growth proved that my husband had watered diligently in my absence.  It was great to see, as my garden is my other passion.  But that is a story for another blog.  

Last month at my Sumit they had an instructor training.  So I returned to lots of great new instructors that had struggled through a month of double work outs each day and lots of theory and training.  I am proud of them all as they worked really hard to get this done.   The thought of practicing twice a day makes me want to vomit to be honest.  

So I returned to my home practice and started to implement the adjustments I picked up on my Yoga Road Trip.  I have to say the work out kicked my butt anew.  It is hard to come back to hot yoga if you take time off from it.  Anyway, so here are some of the adjustments I have added in:

1) 1st forward fold adjustment: Instead of having feet together and grabbing heals, which I am no where near getting, I have feet apart and grab big toes.  It makes it similar to the second one but it works better as it gives me somewhere to put the parts of my body that will not get out of the way just yet.  

2) Prayer twist adjustment:  I have to adapt this as we do this in a lunge not a chair pose, so balance is key.  As you twist to the right you put your left fore arm across your left leg above the knee.  I grab on to my leg to help with the twist.  Then, as you twist you take the right arm and twist it around.  Take your hand, palm flat and put it flat on your back low by your waist with the fingers pointed down.  This allows the spine to twist without being restricted as you would be if your hands were in prayer.   Totally opens the back but takes some balance not to fall over the the side like an overloaded tomato cage. (Ohhh working in the gardening references. hehe)

3) Inner thigh lift and rotations.  So I learned two things about the inner thigh on this trip.  Now let me tell you that my inner thighs need some help, always have and always will.  So I am excited to see what this focus will do.  Anyway, so the idea is that in mountain and in leg lifts, as in flows, you have to engage the inner thighs.  At the Moksha yoga school they keep their heals a little apart in mountain.  This activates the inner thigh and makes it more noticable as you rotate the thighs in as you sweeze the butt.  Even without moving the heals apart you can engage this with meaningful concentration. 

In the flow poses, when you are in downward dog you lift your leg up behind you, straight up, parallel with ground squared down, or knee bent twisted back.  This seems to work best for the first two. When you are in your full extension of the pose, you rotate your inner thigh, on the leg in the air, in getting more reach, length and stretch.  It works a muscle area that is hard to reach, really engages the core as well. 

Sorry this took so long to post. Hope you fine these options interesting. Enjoy your flow. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Yoga Student of the Month - July

I wanted to share my joy in being named Yoga Student of the Month for Columbia's Sumit Hot Yoga.  I love my home practice and am a proud emissary of their services.   Below is my bio I submitted.  Boy is it fun to write about yourself in third person and sing on your praises.  Thought I would share it with you all.  

Laura Flacks Narrol has been doing Sumit Hot Yoga since December.  She is the Mother of two young boys, 6 and 10.  She is also a Faculty Member at Stephens College in the School of Strategic Communication.  She is originally from Toronto Canada, although she has lived in Columbia Missouri for 17 years.

Laura has struggled with weight throughout her life with little success until she found Sumit Hot Yoga.  In her Mid 40's she felt out of control and in a the negative progress of failing physical form and lack of strength.   She first started taking classes on the recommendation of a student and found that the practice was perfect to jump started her metabolism and worked on a low impact basis she needed.  She started taking one class a week and gradually worked her way into a successful 30 day challenge.   She can now be found in classes most days of a week making hot yoga a priority in her life.  .

The journey through hot yoga has inspired Laura to start a blog about that journey to health and fitness.  The blog can be found at and is a journey through both soul and body as the true transformational power of yoga is felt.  Laura discusses changes she feels in her body as well as realizations found on the mat, as Hot Yoga heals.  She also reviews other hot yoga locations as she goes on road trips to other cities and countries.  A new passion has been born.

Over the last 6 months Laura has lost weight, inches, inhibitions, and self doubt. She has also gained health, fitness, confidence, balance, flexibility and understanding.  Laura shares all these triumphs through her blog in the hope of encouraging others to find the healing power of hot yoga.      

Monday, July 8, 2013

Journey home and hoosier yoga

On the last step of our journey,I found myself visiting old friends from high school that live in Carmel, Indiana.  There is a hot yoga place in Carmel called The Yoga Center  They have a very interesting philosophy rather different from many places I have been.  The classes are various with different lengths, types and temperatures.  They have lower temperature classes as well as higher temperature. They returned to the methods I am used to of synthetic flooring and overhead heat blowers.

The instructor this morning, Stacy, indicated that each instructor gets to shape their class how they like. Different postures and no set script allow each instructor to shape the class as they feel their students need.  They also have free flow time in some classes where the instructor will build a flow routine, have everyone do it and then let people flow naturally thought those poses or others that they wish to do.  

My dear friend Mary decided to try the class with me.  We did an hour long slow flow.  The temperature in that class was between 85 and 95 degrees, however I feel it was closer to the lower end.  There were some new positions that I had not tried before, or were not included in my normal routine.  I managed to build up a good sweat, even though the room was a lot cooler then I am used to.  I found myself using many of the modification I have build up in my tool box over these last few months.  

For my friend Mary, this was her first class. Mary, in her early 50's, is extremely healthy and at times in her life has been ridiculously fit.  She is the kind of lady that is beautiful inside and out. After having a child in her late 40's, and moving from Cali to Indiana, she has had a hard time finding a workout that fits into her extremely busy new life.  She loved the hot yoga and has committed to giving this a good try.  She did a fantastic job on the class making it through the entire thing even though it had been years since she has been on a yoga mat.   

One other big difference in this location is, there are no mirrors.  Yes, you read that correctly.  No mirrors. OK, I have to say at first this set me off, not sure how I was going to balance with absolutely no reflection.   But then I did the class.  It forces you to focus inward the entire time.  The instructor encouraged you to close your eyes at times thus increasing that inward journey.  The feeling of that process went well with the aura of this yoga studio.  This also allowed the instructor to change the orientation of the class to face any of the four directions.  

The feeling of this studio and this particular lower temperature class felt like a hybrid between hot and traditional methods.   I am sure, if I had more time there and had a chance to do the hotter class, and many of their other selections, I would have had a more rounded opinion of their offerings.  I am very excited to hear from my friend as she ventures on her journey through hot yoga and all it's healing potential. I will keep you posted.      

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Canada's Wonderland

I went to Canada's Wonderland with my kids Wednesday.  We did the 10 to 10 from open to close.  They are monsters.  This is so special for them that they just want to do and do and do.  There were two elements to this day. The obvious putting out the energy to show two different aged boys a good time, and the inner journey of watching the people around me.

At some points I felt like I was in the scene from the original Star Wars where there are creatures from all over the galaxy hanging out in a bar.  This is where they get Han Solo and his ship.  Anyway, so watching people in a big city such as Toronto is fascinating.  There were people from every walk of life speaking every language imaginable.  When I was a kid I used to marvel of how Toronto had so many culturals represented, each with their own area of town.  At wonderland it was all there waiting in line for the same rides and as various as plants in a botanical garden.

So as a women, I have to say that the number of muslim women in various stages of coverage was beyond what I had seen in the past.   There were women with head scarves, which I am used to. However, there were also women in full coverage with only a small spot of their eyes to peer out.   This was someone new for me.  Not that I had not seen this occasionally or in the Middle East during my travels, it was just surprised to see this at Wonderland.   

Two specific girls touched my heart.  My 6 year old son decided he liked the huge water slides this year.  So we went on them over and over and over.  There were two girls probably age 13 to 15 or so, that were going down the slides in the same pattern as us.  They were covered from head to toe with only their faces showing.  They had on pants, several long shirts, shoes, head scarves, and lord knows what else.  They were going down the slides like they were wearing bathing suites and sun screen.  They were so resilient and having the time of their lives, they were laughing and screaming with the rest of us.   

This was one of those moments where  I was proud of these special women that even within the confines of their faith and modesty, were not limiting their behavior.   Please don't take this as a rant against their choices, or an endorsement of the hypocrisy that leaves women hiding them selves, as it is not.  This is more of a endorsement of the resilience of these women.  Hopefully the freedom of Canada will seep into their world and help them become strong and free women, however until then it is great to see their spirt shine as they attempt to live life to the fullest they can.  

Now on the hot yoga side I was amazed at my strength.   At the water park during all these slide rides I had to carry both my son's tube and my own up these huge stair cases to the top over and over again.  The only way I could carry these tubes was holding them over my head in half moon pose with my fingers grasped and my arms straight up.  I did this over and over and over again.  Using yoga breathing to help myself up the huge stair cases to the top.  I know there was no way on earth I could have done this last year before I started hot yoga.  I was strong and powerful and it helped me show my son a great time.   Thank you yoga for the strength and balance to be super mom once again.

The second yoga experience at Wonderland was an experiment.  I tried to do yoga breathing when I was on one of the roller coasters.  I enjoy rides, however I had to ride a lot more then I would normally to escort my sons on these rides.   Now I have to admit the yoga breathing experiment on the roller coaster did not work well.  I tired to monitory my breathing but once we hit the upside down twirls it was over, all I could do was scream like everyone else.  There are limits to serenity.  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Doing it in a city, Moksha on the Danforth

So last night I got to do another class at the Moksha on the Danforth. This is a city studio to say the least.  If you are familiar with Toronto at all the Danforth is the continuation of Bloor to the east end of down town.  It is highly populated and a very trendy area with lots of shops and restaurants. It used to be the Italian and Greek area when I was young but has certainly moved upscale since then.  

I went to this studio as my sister decided to join me and she lives close by.   My sister is in incredible shape being a P90X lady.  She is an actor and needs to stay in shape for filming and stage.  If you want to check out her work her web page is  We had talked about practicing together and luckily all the planets were aligned and we could get one in.  She had tried hot yoga many years ago but had not done in since then.

So we went to this studio. It was upstairs above some stores with the studio being on the third level.  The class had the same ceiling radiant heaters and had cork flooring.  The cork flooring was very soft and lovely but also held the heat like the bamboo does.  The people were really kind, with lovely insight into the class.  Michelle was the instructor and she really knew her stuff. Her roots were in Bikram but she felt her practice required more flexibility in positions and script, so she found a home in Moksha.

The class was only an hour but it worked me really hard.  I was actually wondering when it would end.  Not sure if it was hotter then I am used to, the city humidity, or the fact that it was 8:15 at night when it started, but I really felt it.  I usually practice in the morning so doing a night class was a shock to my system.   The class was different than any other Moksha class I had taken, with many of the same postures but also some new ones tossed in there.  It might have been part of it being a shorter class, as she combined some poses and did others that were more effective in less time.

The thing that for me was so unique about this class is it was a city class.   You could hear the city sounds outside the studio; a cop car speeding by sirens on,  a motor cycle driving by, general city people and traffic sounds.  Where I practice in Columbia, Missouri you hear nothing with the only incursion from the real world being the very rare smell of buffalo wings from the restaurant next door.   The references for poses also had the flavor of the city ingrained into them.  'Turn towards the Danforth' or 'turn towards the subway line', were instructions used to say which side we were facing.   I loved this as Toronto is my city of birth and will always hold a place in my heart.

I wanted to also say how great this was for my sister.  As she is my older sister she has guided me in many things in my life. She protected me from bullies as a kid and introduced me to sushi.  This was my chance to introduce her to something I love.  She did really well in the class.  Being a natural athlete, she rocked the class out of course.  However, after the class she was amazed by how it energized her, instead of wiping her out, like a usual work out.

She also was glad to have a live person to help make corrections to poses that she had been doing off DVD's for some time, such as her P90X work out that has a yoga portion that embraces the sun salutation sequence.   An example of this is that my sister had really tender knees that are prone to over extension.  In the first downward dog, the instructor Michele, was on it helping my sister to make sure she did not overextend by keeping a little bend in the knees.  She also had a few other adjustment as thing went on and all were with the immediate understanding my sisters body limitations.

After the class we got a great fruit smoothie at a local place and then walked through the city streets to my car.  It was almost surreal when we reached my Missouri plated car and I had to return to the reality of not being a big city person anymore.  The great thing is that no matter where I find myself, on this trip, big city, smaller town, I have found hot yoga to balance me and help my body heal.  Thank you Moksha Danforth.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

poses vs flows

I did my first pose only class.  It was my a Moshka 90 Minute class at the Thornhill location.  I did not realize it was going to be this way until half way through the class. I know that Bikram works that way.  I had taken four Moksha classes before however they were all flow classes.  So there I was in the class doing one pose after another trying to hold back some of my energy for flows. Each pose was held a long time as it was a 90 minute class.  Then the instructor mentioned that some people think that the pose classes are more challenging then the flow classes.  It clicked at that moment.  I took a little break and lay down for a few minutes to get my barrings.

Then I went for it.  I got up and moved from one pose to the other trying to maximize it.  The class followed a now familiar process through the body.  The instructor was wonderful and came by to show me some corrections and even alternative poses for a few that I had trouble with.

One correction I can adapt into the prayer twist I do in the Sumit Hot Yoga practice. It is for a prayer twist but your legs are in a chair position before you twist.  Due to my structure I can't do the prayer twist very well.  My chest gets in the way of holding my hands in prayer and getting an active twist.  So she showed me to put one forearm along the tops of my legs while the other one twisted to rest the palm on my back with the elbow pointing to the sky.  This allows me to actually twist that out well without limiting my range of motion.  I will try that in the crescent  variation we do back home.

Another great adjustment she mentioned was in the Awkward Position when you go up on your toes.  In stead of having your arms up in the air pointed up like half moon or out in front of you, she had us put our hands behind our heads like you are doing a sit up.  This opens your chest well.  The last adjustment I will mention is when you are doing a pose where you are interlacing your hands behind you and opening up the back.   I don't have much range of motion in those positions.  She suggested bringing my hands up the back to about half way sticking your elbows out to the sides.  Great back opener for those of us with limited flexibility there.

I guess I would say it is great to branch out and learn new things with the focus of taking those things I have learned home to my practice. A pose only practice really lets you focus on getting those poses right without the movement between positions being the focus.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Heroines know how to breathe.

If you are a reader of novels, a peruser of historical fiction, maybe a romance or 1000 in your history, you will know that the heroines of these great adventures have mastered the rituals of breathing through every situation.   They keep their poise, and in an ever so refined british accent, brilliantly work their way out of situations winning the day with command.  

Yoga breathing prepares you for such adventures.   By the way, it is perfectly fine to imagine this entire pose read in a british upper crust accent.  In fact it is preferable.  So I digress.  See it helps.  Anyway, no matter where you take a yoga class the instructors will all agree that you must work on the breathing or you are not doing yoga.   Recently I heard it referred to as doing calisthenics in a hot room. 

So I work on the breathing on and off the mat.  Some times I purposefully pull up the three count inhale and the four count exhale to make it through tough situations.  While other times I do it without thought, as it has become so normal for me breath through life.   I am managing my stress level through it and learning to use it to my advantage.     I feel like the powerful women in the novels managing to craftily work my way through the maze during the masquerade ball.   

Life does not make it easy to keep breathing intentionally, that is for sure.  However breathing intentionally can help you get through the tides of life with a little more poise when it counts.   In 1, 2, 3,  hold  out 4, 3, 2, 1, pause, repeat as needed. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Return to Moksha Thornhill and Misconceptions about radiant floor heat

I did a great Moksha Hot Yoga Power Flow 75 minute class, at the Thornhill location. It was wonderful. Heather was the instructor.   I had taken a class with her a few months back in another location.   She was so good at describing little adjustments to activate positions. 

There were a few little beauties that I want to remember for my ongoing practice.  When you are in a flow sequence and lift the leg up and back while in downward dog. Then you square your hips down and flex the foot.  Well then she said to lift the leg by activating the inner thigh muscles.  Lifting up and back with those muscles really activate that entire pose.  She also did an adjustment to happy baby by saying to tilt your tail bone down when you are in the pose.  This flattens the lower back and totally amplifies the pose.  

As I do with all instructors, I ask them about my two trouble positions.  One is a forward fold and the other is rabbit.  She helped me with a second forward fold that could be rotated with the one I have real trouble with in class.  You fold forward and then you grab the big toes and roll your weight forward.  For the alternative to rabbit she suggested a sitting position where you curve into a cat like pose while holding on to your knees.   So glad to have these suggestions in my tool box..  

The class was a power flow class.  When I asked Heather what that meant to her she said, it was about building internal power not external power.   She was so right.  The class was challenging and required you to hold on to poses longer.   There may have even been fewer poses then normal in this longer format class.  We held the poses and really felt the power growing inside.  I felt so wonderful after the class.  

Now I have to say I also found out I had some misconceptions about radiant floor heat.  It seems that the floors are not heated.  The heat comes from overhead heating panels, however the floor is bamboo which holds in the heat. This kind of makes sense because all the places I felt had radiant heat actually had the same type of floor.  The floor holds the heat and emanates it back out at you.   Oppps retraction retraction for all previous comments about radiant flooring.  Now it will just be natural fiber bamboo flooring that I know holds this heat. Still felt a little extra stress on my feet from that heat.  Certainly something I would get used without much trouble.    

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Intentional Yoga

So I am on the road trip with the wonderful little boys, 6 and 10.  We are stopping with people along the way, some of them friends and some of them family.  They all live in very different environments.  The last stop was Kalamazoo.

There I got to visit a studio called Intentional Yoga.  It is technically in Portage Michigan  It was a lovely studio.  A little smaller room then I am used to, however a very functional and nicely put together space. It had radiant floor heat.  The room could accommodate three rows if used efficiently.  The instructors were both wonderful.  The first day was Devon a young man that just had that vibe like you have known him a long time.  The second day was Jen and she was very good with adjustments.   

The sequence was very similar to what I am used to doing.  There were marked differences in some of the standing poses and flows.  It added a couple of variations and actually allowed for a little less breaks.  It felt so good to do something familiar.  I knew when I was away from my sequence I would miss it.  The second day I was able to adjust to the changes but still found a few of the transitions difficult.  Kind of falling down the rabbit hole with changes in places you don't expect.   This also has been mirrored in my off the mat experiences and preludes. 

Now for the deep part of this one, as most folks know, when you travel to visit your home town, there is always some sort of tension brewing and feelings are running high.  I have lived away from my family for the better part of 20 years.   Visiting has always been a priority and has taken up a lot of my time off.  My mother always said, "If you did not put the time into a relationship then it was just a relationship in your head. Oh yah and ... That and $2 will get you a cup of coffee."  

This opportunity to do Intentional Yoga allowed me to have some space from the experience of all these rabbit holes and dynamics that push buttons with a skill, honed like a spanish steel blade. So, today I thought about family and friends, relationships, expectations, shoes to fill, pegs to fit into, and feelings. As I breathed through the meditation, one position at a time, I tried to come to peace or at least acceptance.  I focused on accepting what is and what is not, feeling it, good and bad.  I came out feeling at ease with taking the next step in the journey.   A path that actually frees me up to be more true to who I am, accepting what is, if that makes any sense.  

We had a lovely day at the Kalamazoo Children's Museum and then drove to the next stop for an uncomplicated night in a hotel with a great pool, hot tub and lovely meal with family.  The kids positively wore themselves out. It was a day that ended so much better than it began.  Focusing on the issue, intentionally... and letting myself digest, feel, come to peace, and move on, allowed me to enjoy this wonderful time with my boys and family.  We had a blast in the pool, it was one of those times you lock up in the memory banks.  Here they are below. Good night boys.  Thank you Intentional Yoga :)


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yin and Yang on the road trip.

Some times in life you do things because you know it is the right thing to do however you question your sanity while you do it.   This is how I feel on the eve or the trip to Canada with the two boys.   I am doing this trip solo as my husband must work.  So why the apprehensive.  I know my limits and if I can not drive more we will stop.  I have audiobooks downloaded.  The boys have multiple electronic devises to keep them busy.   Yet the first step seems huge like repelling down a cliff.

I have to admit that some of this is housed in my own patterns of what men and women do.  It is from my relationships as well as the ones I saw during the formative years.  When I was young my parents would drive us across country in a station wagon pulling a trailer.  The Grizwalds would have been proud.  My father did the lions share of the driving with my mother taking on, white knuckled shifts, drinking coffee and eating chocolate.

My husband likes to do the majority of the driving on trips, making a point of it as he feels more comfortable in the drivers seat.  He can drive huge lengths with energy drinks and podcasts on his Ipad.  I end up taking on all the needs of everyone in the car such as food, drink, entertainment, DVD changes, etc  etc.   Doing this trip by myself means I do both roles.

Yet in the summer of '90 my friend Naomi and I traveled out to the west costs, down to the south west and back, well sort of back, but that is a story for another post.   We drove in shifts as needed.  Another friend Anna and I drove to Florida and back one summer as well.

I drive in big cities like Toronto with 14 lanes on the 401 coming in and out of the city.  I fear no traffic or map, with a pretty good sense of directions.   Occasionally I make wrong turns but nothing that can't be corrected as needed.   There was one time I ended up going the wrong way on a one way in Downtown Chicago but that place is a zoo.

So why does a trip across country with the boys eat at my confidence.   Driving with distraction is definitly a bit of a full contact sport, boys needing and fighting.  Who invented bunny ears to bug little brothers anyway.

Maybe this is another male female thing in my life.  I can only get the kids to stop fighting to a certain extent.  My husband can dominate them, if needed, and shut down just about any craziness.  That is another role he plays that will be missing on this trip.  Some times you just need good cop and bad cop to get the job done.  Maybe that is the root of the apprehension.  

So in these ways I prefer to be passenger than driver.  I prefer to be nurturer than enforcer.  While these may be where my dominance lie, that does not mean I can not play the other roles and do them well.  I have to remember that and embrace the chances to push those envelopes and balance my yin and yang.

However, Todd, we will miss you and thanks for all you do to balance this family.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shake it up.

Lately folks have been going to a Herbalife shake club called Suite Leaf after hot yoga.   I went a few weeks ago for the first time on the recommendation of a yoga mate Rob.  Got a yummy chocolate shake that came with a lovely tea and an aloe shot.  The shakes are meal replacement protein formula packed with healthy stuff.  

My students had been talking about this last semester and how it helped them loose weight etc.   One student was dared by her mom to loose 20 lbs before graduation for a new wardrobe before she started her new job.   By the way, well done Samantha W., I bet the outfits are lovely. 

So I started going there a couple times a week just trying it out.  I don't really like the idea of being dependent on a diet plan and know that I need to respect portion control to succeed in the long run.  Yet the shakes are yummy, fast, and fill me up for a few hours.   I like the idea of something that is easy and allows me to get on to the next tasks of the day. Did I mention they have coffee flavors.... 

The ladies at the club are very lovely, taking the time to check on your progress and encourage you along.   Their plan requires you to have two shakes a day. This would entail eating breakfast.  Yet, for a while now I have been hard core on the 9:00am class after I drop the kids at school.  I have been strong at that time and it works well with my schedule.  I don't eat anything before class, however it is early in the morning so I am not hungry.  When I have eaten within two hours of class it usually ends badly with heart burn and other unhappy outcomes. 

Yet I know you are supposed to eat something first thing in the morning to get your metabolism going and the thought of a small shake sounded possible.  Maybe if I ate it early enough, I could do it and not have it backfire in the class.   I bought a small portion of the stuff and took it home.  

The last two mornings I have had a shake with about 1/2 the protein and meal replacement stuff as in a normal shake.  I have had it at about 7:30 am.  I also have been taking vitamins which normally I would not have remember to do.  So I am increasing the nutrients and getting some protein rich stuff in me early.   

The last two morning's hot yoga classes have been different than previous with a marked difference in energy and staying power.  I did not take breaks either day.  Strange, as I had gotten used to needing breaks.  I felt less fatigued during the class, and less hungry after.  While this only make sense, of course, the challenge was keeping food down during the class.  So these shakes were quickly absorbed so that I easily used the energy in the class and did not have trouble with digestion.    

So far so good, we will see.  I am looking at this as another tool in my process of health, flexibility and balance.   My husband has been eating protein each morning within  30 minutes of waking and it his helping him balance his cravings, energy and eating.   I hope this will also change my patterns up a little and if it also gives me more power on the mat I am all for it.   

Shake it up baby now...