Come Play – Utah Style!

I know I’m in Utah but I feel as if I am visiting another planet! Everything is so different here and so RED! Towering cliffs rise thousands of feet above the ground surrounded by skirts of rubble. Gigantic stone spires resemble soldiers frozen in place. Mountains that look like castles for giants. Cavernous valleys that include every color of the rainbow.  And every bit of it is hauntingly beautiful and inviting me to come play!

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This is my Christmas Present – this trip through the high desert southwest. I mentioned to my boyfriend that I had never seen the Grand Canyon nor the National Parks such as Arches or Canyonlands in southern Utah so he planned a trip to bring me here! So far, I think it’s the best Christmas present I’ve ever received!

Our first day in Moab, Utah we headed straight to Arches National Park. The sky was brilliant blue and the sun was shining – something we seldom see in Seattle! I enjoy hiking and the 2 miles was an easy trek for me. As we came around the last bend in the trail and I saw Delicate Arch I said, “Well, Hello Gorgeous!” and let out a laugh!

Delicate Arch is a freestanding Arch on the far side of a large rounded bowl that has a huge hole at the center! I knew I was going to make my way over to the arch somehow – but having a fear of heights makes things a little sketchy for me. It took me awhile to accomplish and I was shaking like a leaf the whole time but I will never forget the feeling of standing inside that Arch. I felt light, happy, playful and giddy beyond all belief!

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It’s very similar to the feeling I had the first time I did a handstand all by myself! I was at work – in a closed studio room – and when I kicked my feet up and touched the wall I let out a shout so loud that people came running to see what had happeened. I was so happy that it bubbled up out of me!!!! I had done it! I had done a handstand! I had walked over to the arch! Yay!!!!! Woohoo!!!!! Happy Dance!!!!!! Look what I did!!!!!

I love that moment in life. That moment when you feel connected. That moment where heart, mind and body are ONE. That moment when Joy is felt in every pore of your being. No matter where I go, or what yoga studio I visit I know that I will feel that connection. Each teacher does things a little differently but my practice will always give me joy. I will feel peaceful, accomplished, and filled with wonder EVERY time.

Today I practiced at  Moab Yoga.  Our instructor Lily Houghton has been teachging Yoga for about 2 years. She also works for the National Park Service so she’s familiar with the awe and wonder available in the nearby parks! Lily is a great yoga teacher.  Her voice combined with her gentle instructions make for a calm practice which is exactly what I needed after all the recent excitement.

My favorite part of visiting studios is that I get to see and learn new things! What I learned today was Lily’s transition from Pigeon Prep Pose to Cow Faced Pose. After Pigeon Prep – we rolled onto the front outer hip bringing the back leg to the front and crossing it over at the knees. I had never seen it done that way before!

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Yoga is my constant in a life full of gypsy travel and change. Whether it is that “Yahoo!” moment of handstand or the serenity of a peaceful practice. Both are important parts of my life. I love my yoga gypsy lifestyle. I hope you love your life too. Namaste y’all!

 

UnSizeMe Please!

What kind of yoga studio has a name like UnSizeMe? And what does it mean? I had a couple of people tell me that it is a great hot yoga studio in Oak Harbor and as I’m always up for a new adventure I decided to give it a try.

I walked inside and picked up a business card.  It reads:

UnAgeMe UnLabelMe UnSizeMe UnCageMe UnCompareMe

Wow! Isn’t that awesome? Finally a yoga studio that is facing these topics head-on and inviting the conversation! Let’s get real. We all deal with these issues. Most of the yoga magazines showcase young, small and extremely bendy people. Is that our role model? Is that what it’s all about? There are lots of us out here practicing that do not fit in that small category (No pun intended). We are many different ages and sizes and abilities.

To be totally honest, just before coming to class I purchased a new scale. It seems I am never happy with my size. I’m always about 10 pounds away from my idea of the “perfect” size. How appropriate that I end up at UnSizeMe tonight! Can anyone say Karma? LOL.

As class began I noticed very quickly that our teacher’s presence filled the room in an “It’s ok, I’m here for you, Let’s love ourselves, I see you.” kind of way. She exudes the most lovely earth mother feeling as though she’s lived many lives and has a lot of knowledge to share with us – if we will listen.

Carol Sele – tonights teacher – is the Originator of UnSizeMe. She has been teaching yoga for about 11 years and taught in Coupeville before coming to Oak Harbor. I was dying to find out how she came up with the name of her studio.  Most studios have some sanskrit name or Hot Yoga etc……but not this one. UnSizeMe is unique – just like its owner.

Carol’s vision is best said in her own voice.   “The name UnSizeMe means: We are not a size, we are a spirit. This yoga studio is about what our bodies and mind can learn; not our size, age, culture or gender. UnSizeMe is about strength, potential and inner power. This studio is motivational and spiritually based and it is our quest to undo societal pressures and perfectionism. It is dim, warm and very zen.

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We are about transforming from the inside out in a nonjudgmental, uncompetitive, fun, loving environment. Our teachers have amazing training and experience but more important are humble, joyful, patient and consider themselves students in every way.” (www.unsizeme.com)

I could feel every ounce of that vision in the class that Carol taught. She is knowledgeable, humorous, giving and welcoming. Her classes are for every age, size, ability and gender. She shows that yoga is not just about the asana. It’s also about how you treat yourself and others!

When all is said and done I want be remembered as a person with an open giving heart, a good listener and friend, loving, kind and giving. Thank you for the reminder that comparing myself to others only leads to heart ache and that thinking I’m not good enough because I’m not 10 pounds lighter is folly.

I’m a work in progress just like everyone else but I know that my size does not define me. I am an adventurous spirit who loves yoga, fitness, walking in the woods, being with my friends and sharing light with everyone around.

Carol, The light in me thinks the light in you is freaking awesome! Shine on lady!

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Balancing in the Dark

You hear it everywhere! Balance! Make your life balanced! Eat a balanced diet! Work to restore balance in your relationship!  It’s the new “in” word – balance. You’re not supposed to work too much, or play too much, or eat too much, or anything too much.  If you’re a mom who works outside of the house you’re supposed to find balance by spending more “quality” time with your kids. If you are a man who works 60 hours a week you’re supposed to find time to relax and rejuvenate – go fishing or play golf. It’s like the balance police are watching us!

In yoga we work on finding balance in a literal way. We practice balancing to increase the strength in the muscles that hold us upright – because we don’t want to fall and get hurt or break a bone. We balance on one foot in Tree Pose or Warrior III. We even balance on our hands sometimes in Crow or Handstand. Some of us even balance on Stand Up Paddle boards on the water! I’ve even seen people balance on slack lines strung between two trees! But have you ever tried balancing in the dark?

Tonight I visited Crescent Moon Yoga in LaConnor, WA and took a Mixed Levels class with Dawn Glavick. Dawn came to yoga after a battle with Breast Cancer. Scar tissue from her surgeries was affecting her range of motion so she tried yoga as a means of retaining as much movement as possible. She is now 6 years cancer free (BIG HUGE YAY!!!) and has been teaching yoga for about a year.

As a yoga teacher I usually feel confident while balancing but not tonight! It wasn’t totally dark but the studio lights were dim and there were some candles lit. As we moved into Warrior III, I set my drishdi a few feet in front of me but could not seem to keep my standing leg still. I fell out of the pose several times. (Luckily I kept my cursing internal!) You wouldn’t think that dim lighting would make that much difference! Seeing my frustration Dawn said, “Balancing IS more difficult in the dark.”

When she said this I realized I’d felt this before! On a recent visit to Houston I went to an underground tunnel with very dim lighting that vacillated slowly in shades of pink. It was a SUPER cool setting and I couldn’t keep myself from trying Dancers Pose. I was really surprised (and frustrated) that it was almost impossible for me to find the full expression of the pose!  No matter how hard I stared at the black edge of the walkway I could not hold still! During my struggle the guard at the end of tunnel mentioned it being due to the low lighting!

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Give it a try! Take any pose that you are comfortable with and then close your eyes. Notice how you begin to sway almost immediately. The loss of vision greatly affects your ability to be still. Then try it in low light – see how much light you need to hold the pose.

Besides the balance part of class being challenging for me, Dawn’s class was great! What is exceptional is Dawn herself. Dawn simply radiates peace. I’m not sure if it’s her breast cancer survivor status or if she’s always been this way but just being around her makes you feel calm and at ease.

So while I agree that a healthy balance in life is desirable I choose to practice moderation in all things including moderation. So if you want to ride the ferris wheel a hundred times – go ahead! If you want to eat a bucket of ice cream on your birthday – be my guest!  If you want to try Dancer’s Pose in the dark – more power to ya! Just remember that balance is a practice in life and in yoga. Don’t expect perfection. Close your eyes and see what happens!