"There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"
I wanted a more mindful approach to traveling to the Galapagos. Rather than doing an outrageously expensive cruise, where tourists get more of a "feel" of the ship, and only leave the ship en masse to check out an island for a couple of hours, I wanted to experience life on the islands. I wanted to have the time to go at my own pace, and really take things in.
Last time I was in NYC, I stumbled upon a Sweaty Betty store...and instantly became a fan of their clothes! The quality is spot-on, they fit amazingly well, and their styles are great! It's my new favorite place to find yoga-clothes!
Yoga chairs can be an expensive investment! So, instead of buying yoga chairs for $70 each, I followed a tutorial on YouTube, and transformed ordinary folding chairs into backless yoga chairs that Iyengar himself would be proud of.
I just got home from taking what I would consider a terrible yoga class. It was bad on so many different levels. I KNOW, I know, we aren't supposed to be judgmental....but it got me thinking about what I would have told my teacher today, had she asked for input. This doesn't come from a place of ego...there's no "my teaching style is better than yours"....promise! This ultimately comes from a place of concern for the safety of the students in the yoga class that I took today.
A friend got a holiday card she shared with me a few years ago, and it went like this: "We are so BLESSED" it said..."*Mike got a huge promotion at work, we took a 2 week family vacation to France, and bought his & hers Audis"...it went on to talk about their gifted children and all of their accomplishments ad nauseum.
You've gone out to get your drink on with your girlfriends...What's next?!...Schedule a detoxifying yoga class after your night of debauchery! More and more brides are seeing the value of yoga for calming their nerves before their big day. It's a fun thing to do with your very favorite people! AND, it will help you de-stress, feel confident, and present for your special day!
Here are some ideas to make your pre-wedding yoga class extra special:
- Buy matching/personalized yoga mats for your bridesmaids! Try ClaireBella, My Custom Yoga Mat, CafePress, or Your Yoga Mat.
- If a personalized mat is too steep for your budget, make some lavender eye pillows! Here's a great tutorial on Make It Do. Or, check out Etsy...they have a ton of different ones to choose from...I love these from Pacha Mama Body Care....or these (with removable covers...a plus!) from Heather Shawn.
- Ask your yoga teacher to have a heart-centered class. Open up your heart...and the hearts of your bridesmaids...
- Request a special reading...chances are, your instructor will have special quotes or words of inspiration that will be perfectly fitting.
- Turn the event into a brunch with your girlfriends...or a spa day...endless possibilities!
I have used this meditation at the end of class for years. It's adapted from yogi, Shiva Rea's, Yoga Journal post, and I think it's a great way to help focus the mind internally. Here is a link to the original in Yoga Journal.
5-step Meditation Practice - Dwelling in the Lotus Heart.
Find a comfortable seated position. It can be in a chair, on the floor, on a yoga mat, with your back against the wall, or however you'd like for the amount of time you intend to sit. Setting a timer is a great idea...so you don't have to worry about the time. I love using the Insight Timer app. Rest your hands comfortably in your lap, elongate your spine, and soften your shoulders. Take a few deep breaths, and soften any tension in your body with your exhale.
- Begin by reading the following passage from the Upanishads: “Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart. Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes lives in the Self-the source of love. Realize the Self hidden in the heart and cut asunder the knot of ignorance here and now.”—The Upanishads (Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1987)
- Bring your attention to your breath. With your next inhale, bring your awareness to the center of your chest. When you exhale, notice any sensations that you feel in your chest. As you keep breathing, continue to notice sensations in your chest...or...as yoga teachers like to refer to it: your "heart center". What does your heart center feel like? Heavy? Light, Warm? Whatever you sense there, just notice.
- Next, imagine a beautiful lotus flower in your heart center. Imagine it's petals opening with every inhalation. Stay with this image of the lotus in your heart. Let your awareness rest there.
- You can stay with this image of the lotus, or imagine your heart expanding and allow the feelings of love to come up. When other sensations, feelings, or thoughts come up...just notice that they are there, and watch them pass on by. Or, you can let each one rest on the petals of the lotus. Continue to allow your heart to expand with each inhale.
- Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (prayer hands) at your heart, and complete your meditation with a moment of gratitude or reflection. You can bring your awareness to your heart at any time during the day...it will help you to bring forth feelings of love, which is often needed in our crazy swirl of life!
One of the highlights of our trip to Morocco was visiting a school, and getting to spontaneously teach the kids a little yoga! SUCH fun! Our family stayed in Tighdouine, a tiny town in the middle of the Atlas Mountains, and a friend of our guide, Hamid, was a teacher at a school in Talatast, about 20 minutes drive away from Tighdouine (over a river & some seriously bumpy roads):
The kids were attending an after-school program..they were kids who wanted to be there, we were told...who wanted a bit more education. This is not a touristy town...they might get a few people through who are hiking through the mountains, but most of the kids don't see strangers too often...so, our family was definitely a different sight to see.
The kids spoke primarily Amazigh (Berber), and then possibly Arabic, and maybe a tiny bit of French. They sang us songs (kids singing ALWAYS brings a tear to my eyes...does this happen to anyone else?!), the teacher told us about the school, and wrote our names in Amazigh on the chalkboard.
They had questions...and we were thankful for interpreters! First, they wanted to know what kind of jobs we all had...and I thought for SURE they were going to ask my daughter about her hot-pink hair...but they all wanted to know more about yoga.
I know how to say hello and thank you in Arabic. I can count in French, and I don't know a drop of Amazigh...I was worried at first about not speaking the same language. But really...they just copied the moves that I made. They had no worries about doing the pose "right"...they know how to breathe, and could watch me demonstrate. The kids were so open to learning, and excited to try something new, it was absolutely heartlifting!
We were speaking the same language...that of yoga!
A fantastic graphic. I found this on Tumblr...it's a great visual to use if you are having a bit of anxiety. Inflate your lungs deeply as you watch the shapes expand, and exhale as the shapes disappear.
This quote speaks to me. I've always felt such peace and calm when at the ocean... The blurry photo was taken while on a sailing trip in Mexico...near Sayulita...I can almost hear the sounds now...aah...