Monday, October 11, 2010

A new journey!

Exciting news! I'm pregnant! So this path that I had laid out before me has taken a sudden turn. The first trimester hit me like a ton of bricks, with it's nausea and exhaustion.
To be honest, I haven't practiced yoga everyday since in peed on that little test strip, unless you count meditative walking, and sitting yoga. And that brings me to my next point. Although my experiment has been cut short I have reached a great conclusion.
Yoga is not the physical practice. The physical practice is merely a vessal, a way to get to the mental clarity, and purity of being. The monks who created the physical part of yoga created it as a way to calm their bodies so they could meditate. I have found that sense of clarity from time to time, and I didn't need to practice yoga every day to get there.
Now I need to bring that clarity with me as I start down the new path of motherhood!

Monday, September 20, 2010

An apology

Dear Readers,
Are you out there? Have you been wondering where I've been? No, I haven't abandoned this project. Recent, huge, changes have come into my life. And, well, I've had to take a short hiatus from this blog. I promise more to come. I will blog- no later than October 7th! Please be patient.
Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No matter what

There have been several days already when my back has ached, or I've been deliriously busy, or something has distracted me and it's been hard to practice yoga. I have to teach yoga, at least every-other day, and I've found that practicing makes my teaching better. Practicing also makes me much more patient with the kids I take care of, and my husband, and basically everything. It's become more than just, "I have to get through the practice." It is a discipline. It has focused my mind and soothed my soul, even if my back muscles are sore today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happiness has always been a bit tricky for me. Even as a child I wallowed in the mellow dramatic, insisting that the whole world was against me, or doomed by some horrible fate. And lately, with the BP oil spill, which has lead me to discover more oil spills all over the world, and the still struggling battle in the Afghanistan and Iraq, I have had many reasons to loathe this existence. A funny thing has been happening, however, I don't loathe life. The Buddha taught me that all life is suffering. And yoga has taught me that it is how you deal with that suffering that matters. Where I would once cry in bed for hours wondering what in the world I could do to save the starving children in India, I now realize that the joy and hope starts at home. I go out and share the lightness of yoga with other people. I've been trying to be that tiny pebble thrown into the big sea, watching my ripples move beyond my home. Sometimes, I do get caught up in the worries of the world. And then I have to hold some crazy bound warrior for an ungodly amount of time, and I everything on the outside fades away. All I am is breath and blood. I can only share so much of my blood, but my breath is infinite. It has sustained me through some very hard times, and has been my connection to all the life in this world. I only hope that through my teaching, and my prana, I can help other people find there breath, and connection.

How the time flies...

I was at a family gathering this weekend and my uncle mentioned how long it has been since I've posted on my blog. I realized it has been about 2 weeks without updates! And, oh! do I have updates! The past couple of weeks have been amazing. Let's start at the beginning.

My husband and I went to Cedar Point. We are both huge roller coaster fans, so this is an annual tradition of ours. I love being thrown at the earth at over 100 mph! Being a coaster professional, I know very well the benefits of post amusement park yoga. The increased pull on your spine alone from many of those rides, makes me want to hold uttanasana (forward fold) for 30 minutes. So at 11pm, after a long day of being flung through space, I rolled out my mat and decompressed. I have never felt better falling asleep after a long day at Cedar Point.

I have taken at lot of what I learned in that restorative workshop and woven it into my daily home practice. I did primarily restorative postures for my post-CP practice, and I used it every night during my backpacking adventure later in the week.

Normally, when I camp, I don't practice. Yoga for me is first and foremost a meditative practice. When I am in the woods, I already feel calm and don't need to meditate. However, I promised myself I would do yoga EVERY day, no exceptions! So I invented some strange melding of power vinyasa and restorative poses that could be done at night inside my tent.

I went backpacking, not typical camping. My husband and I carried everything we needed several miles into the forest. My yoga mat got left behind. This got me thinking. Why do I NEED my mat to practice? Shouldn't I be able to do some form of yoga no matter where I am? It rained everyday we were in the woods, and the ground remained a soggy mess of old leaves. If it had been dry I would have practiced outside, under the trees and stars. Instead, I practiced inside my little tent. This tent is so small that I couldn't fit my "down dog" into it. I found ways, through mostly core exercises to create a great internal heat. I even did some modified sun salutations, where I used child's pose in place of down dog. It was a great learning experience.

At some points during my practice in the woods, my breath seemed to echo the songs of the frogs and crickets. Yoga became even more of an amazing meditative process. I have never felt so at peace in the middle of a forest before. It was as if the woods and I were connected. The universal prana, the life that connects everything, was tangible during my yoga practice. I have left that week feeling an even greater since of camaraderie to all beings of this planet- from the little spider that made a web in my tent, to the fawn and doe that wandered into my camp, and now the squirrels in my backyard. I am beginning to understand that human beings are not at all separate from the animal kingdom or natural world. We may try to distance ourselves, but in the end, we are all the same breath, the same prana, the same inhaling and exhaling life force.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To run, or not to run?

A couple months ago, my husband and I promised each other that we would run in the Pittsburgh Spirit, a half marathon, in November. For a month or so, I trained, I ran and walked and ran some more. But I began noticing how tight my body was getting, and honestly I never liked running in the first place. Then, I started doing yoga every day. My body couldn't feel better, and without the running I'm much more open and less stiff. So I haven't found the motivation to run again. I even have my goals for the summer hung up at work; one says "train for a half marathon." Do I give up my mini dream of being a runner? Is my body telling me to stop or am I merely being lazy? To run, or not to run? That is the question.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Car yoga?

My life is crazy busy, and this past week was no exception. I found myself practicing yoga at home, by my in-laws pool, and in the car! Yes, in the car. This past Friday flew past so fast that I almost forgot to do yoga. My husband and I were headed to Ohio to visit family, and I decided if we got there in time I would just have to practice at their house. However, construction and traffic made us hours later than we had planned. So I pushed the back down on my seat, and did some seated yoga exercises. I actually worked up a sweat in my little 40 minute practice. I did some breathing exercises, core work, stretches and even bridge! Now, I doubt that this was the safest thing to do, but we were moving at 15 miles an hours, and I had to do yoga! So kids don't try this in your car, but know it was possible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anywhere, Anytime

I've been terribly busy lately. Rushing from my nannying gig to teaching yoga to all kinds of family and social things has kept my head and schedule spinning. This past weekend my husband and I planned on spending the Saturday at the lake. However, we did not plan to sleep in till 11. By the time we had gotten ready, all local yoga classes were long over. I told myself that I could practice by the lake, what a better serene place to connect with the universe. When I got there the beach was crowded with icecream-lickers, beach ball bouncers, soggy diapered kids! I tried doing a few inversions and a bikini clad down dog, needless to say I was awash with embarrassment. Lake yoga= fail.
That night we went to visit a good friend at his apartment. He has this open dining area without a table (typical bachelor). He practiced Tai Chi in that space, and I have to admit ever since my first visit to his apartment I have wanted to do yoga there. It is the perfect space, even if it is in someone else's abode. My husband and friend sat around watching Kung Fu videos and drinking beers while I watched the minutes tick by. It was getting closer and closer to midnight and I still hadn't done yoga! Was I going to have to start this year of yoga all over AGAIN?! I suddenly remembered that I had my mat in my car, and it came to me. Cue the light bulb!
I practiced in his little Tai Chi/ dining space, and it was great. I was amazed at how easily the breath took me out of the beer and Kung Fu atmosphere and into my own bodily experience. I was pulled away a couple times by raucous laughter, but all in all it was a great practice! And the night was a complete success because I finally convinced my friend to let me start teaching him yoga!
So far so good! I have not missed a day, and still love how the mere writing of this blog has forced me to make yoga a priority. I have never felt happier, calmer or healthier!

Friday, July 16, 2010

My savasana secret

Practicing every day has changed when I have time to eat, and my overall eating schedule. The times I would normally be snacking I don't so my stomach won't be full during practice. However, I've notice a new distraction filling my mind durig savasana- my hunger! I'll lay there during those 3-5 minutes of meditiative relaxation day dreaming about what I'm going to eat next! Instead of letting every muscle in my body relax or listening to my breath, I'm listing ingrediants and craving cookies!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yoga and Relaxation

On Friday subtle soreness filled most muscles in my body. So, instead of going to my usual 90 minute power yoga class, I took a restorative yoga workshop. In those 2 hours I realized that I have a very hard time letting myself relax. While my body softened and surrendered to gravity, my mind raced on, circling through lists of lists and chores and other things so obscure and pointless that I thought I must be going crazy. Someone once said that if we could listen to a record of all the thoughts that go through our brain everyday it would sound like the crazy rants of a lunatic. I thought that my mind was calm during my yoga practice, but I realized that I need a more physically demanding practice to quiet my mind. So I'm wondering what to do with this knowledge. Do I meditate more to quiet my mind, or do I push myself through physically demanding practices to shut up my inner monologue?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One week in

So far so good. I'm loving yoga everyday. I've never felt healthier or happier.
This past weekend was Independence Day, and normally on a family and friends packed holiday I would have skipped my practice. But, because I'm doing this project I woke up early and set did my own practice for 45 minutes while my hubby slumbered the morning away. I don't know if it was the yoga that morning, but I felt great the rest of the day, and was less inclined do drink or eat things that I knew were bad for my body.
I have already learned a lot about managing my energy. I've allowed myself to have two shorter practices this past week, because I also take Kung Fu and knew I would need to energy for that practice as well as a whole years worth of yoga. It's been amazing allowing myself to back off a bit during my practice. I've actually come to like child's pose.
Speaking of taking child's pose, on Wednesday I worked for over 10 hours and ran to home to change for yoga. I was starving, but didn't have time for a real meal. So I ate a chocolate bar and went to class! 30 minutes into class and I knew I had done something stupid. My stomach flip flopped and my head swam. What a mistake! But I learned a lot about backing off and taking care of your body, and I made it through class. Note to hungry yogis- Chocolate and hot yoga don't mix!
So as of right now, I'm loving my daily yoga practice!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yoga and Traveling

Airplane at the airport

I had grand dreams of myself rising with the sun on Friday June 18th, and making my merry way to Amazing Yoga to take the early morning(6:30) class, kicking off the 365 days of yoga with a great practice। Instead, I overslept my alarm and woke to a phone call from my husband। There still would have been time to make it to class, if I rushed। I didn't. Instead, I spent the extra time that morning, texting my sister-in-law as she lay in the hospital about the give birth to my niece! I was so excited that I forgot everything about yoga. I left home and went to work in a daze of giddiness! My niece was going to be born on my birthday! By the time I left work, there was not a minute left for yoga. I packed my bags and drove to Maryland, where I was to meet up with my mom for our trip to Mexico.

So day one was a huge FAIL।

Days 2 through 7 soared by in a blissful yoga blur। At the teacher training I attended in Tulum Mexico, we took a morning meditative walk from 7am to 8am, followed by a breakfast comprised of completely "clean" (detoxifying) foods. At 9am every morning we met for a peer-led 2 hour practice. There was free time to enjoy the beach as well as lunch and workshops in the afternoon. The evening came with a sweaty 2 hour practice taught by the retreat leaders, Karen and Sean Conley. As I said before, it was a blissful yoga blur.

Day 8 was my trip back to reality and all the chaos that comes with it। That morning a tropical storm descended on top of the paradise resort. I spent the morning packing and watching the ocean churn. I left Mexico that day without having much of a chance to practice. However, we had a 3 hour layover at the Atlanta airport. So I used 30 minutes of this time to practice a bit of yoga at terminal 31A. People watched and made fun, and yes I was a bit embarrassed. But,it felt so great to get my body moving I ignored my ego and moved anyway.

Sunday (day 9) flew by and I almost forgot to practice, but managed to find some time before bed for some gentle evening movements and stretches।

Monday was a bit of chaos। I had to get the oil changed on my car before my drive back to Pittsburgh, and I spent the afternoon waiting for my car to be ready and the evening driving. When I got home I dashed off to my sister-in-laws house and fell madly in love with my new niece, Charlotte. I was head over heals and forgot all about practicing. No yoga was done that day. So day 9 was a major fail. I could have made yoga a priority and I didn't. I could have practiced early in the morning; life is full of could haves and should haves, and excuses about how yoga is hard to do while traveling.

So I am starting again। Today begins a new count. I've decided that I need to do a year straight of yoga, and each slip up, each time I forget to practice, I'll start the count again. Hopefully, it won't happen again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is yet to come...

Hello! I'm Candace and I love yoga. I eat, breathe, sleep, practice, teach, and sweat yoga. A while ago somebody asked me how often do I practice yoga, and I realized, I do yoga just about everyday. Of course, there are always the crazy days when I don't make it to my mat, and I loathe those days. I got to thinking, what if I practiced EVERY day- Monday through Sunday, January to December, 365 days a year. Would I be happier and healthier, or overworked and sore? Is yoga supposed to be a daily practice, or just a 5-6 days a week kind of thing?

I am conducting an experiment on myself. Starting June 18th, my 26th birthday, I will practice yoga EVERY day for a year.