Show Up. Get to the Mat.

The hardest step is often getting ourselves there. To the mat, to the gym, to the pool, whatever it may be for us. We come up with all kinds of excuses: “I’m tired”, “it’s been a long day,” “I’ll just go tomorrow, tomorrow works better.” These excuses can go on for days, and before we know it, it’s been weeks since we last hit the mat. Many days we literally have to convince ourselves to go, talk ourselves into it and that it’s a good idea and important. We get into good streaks and we find ourselves in bad ones. How do we stop those bad ones? What can we do to get out of our slumps and get back to our practice?

We know what yoga does for us. We feel better – physically and mentally. Maybe that ache and pain that you usually have isn’t bothering you when you get to your mat on a regular basis. Maybe you feel more energetic and able to get things done. Maybe your day just runs a little smoother when you get to your mat in the morning. Maybe you sleep better. Despite all of the benefits we receive from our practice, we find it difficult to get ourselves there.

I often find it difficult as a student and as a teacher. It becomes even harder to separate the two when I teach all day and the only way I can make it to a class is to get up earlier, or squeeze it in between two classes I’m teaching.

Even as a teacher, it’s hard for me to always show up to teach at 100% for my students. I sometimes felt that if I wasn’t really all there, how are my students going to understand the importance of our yoga practice. More importantly, if I can’t be all there, it may give them the excuse to not be all there either. Eventually that barely there, turns into not showing up to your mat at all.

The best advice I have ever heard for teachers – and this goes for all teachers, mentors, etc. – is this:

“They show up for you, how dare you not show up for them.”

We’ve already talked about how hard it is for us to get to our mat. As a teacher, we have to show 100% even if we feel 40% of ourselves that day. We all have bad days. Our job is to help people move, create a safe space and allow them to find the stillness they need that day. It might be the only moment of peace they have all day.

When I have a bad day and I go to teach, I remind myself of this quote. Sometimes, I talk myself into it, at a certain point in talking myself into it, I realize I don’t need to talk myself into in. No matter what, I have NEVER felt worse after teaching a class than when I walked into the studio that day.

Ask yourself, whether you’re a student or a teacher – have you ever felt worse at the end of class than you did at the beginning? Probably not.

Do whatever you need to do. Get yourself there. Act like you feel 100% ready for it. You won’t regret it!

The Teacher Appears

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Yoga Journal Live in NYC – a weekend jam packed with yoga and meditation. I am definitely feeling a yoga high. If you don’t know what that is, its basically the feeling that you are on top of the world and you are calm, and open and ready to receive whatever life might throw at you. I hope this feeling lasts forever.

My previous posts have all been very technical, and with this one, I’ll get personal.

I was burnt out. I was teaching anywhere from 6-10 classes a week in addition to my 40 hour a week job and my other weekly commitments. I wasn’t feeling inspired, I couldn’t think of creative sequences, I was barely practicing. I was tired, stressed and lost.

I went to this conference this weekend intending to be a student. Get back to my practice and concentrate on my practice. Very selfish, right? Nope. Not at all. We all need that selfish time for us.

Something funny happened in my selfishness. I was taking a class Saturday morning (day 2) and not only was I thinking about how to apply the tools I was being taught in my personal practice, but I wanted to get back to my students and teach them what I’ve learned. If I’m being honest, I thought of them first.

I am and will always be a student of yoga, but at the core, my passion is to teach that to others.

I am a teacher. I want to share my passion for the practice of yoga, the whole practice, with my students.

I encourage you to shut off your brain and see what appears. It might be just want you need to re-energize your mind, body and spirit.

hellobeautiful

Pose of the Month: Yogi Squat

Get grounded this month in malasana – yogi squat.

Yogi Squat (Malasana)

malasana

Yogi squat is a great but intense pose. When we sit all day or stand all day, our hips get tight. Yogi squat can help us relieve some of that tension.

Remember – As you begin to find the proper alignment, remember to focus on the breath. Each breath you take helps you sink deeper into the pose.

Key Cues

  • Lengthen the tailbone down
  • Pull the bellybutton into the spine
  • Broaden your collarbone
  • Press your knees away from each other
  • Lengthen through both sides of the torso

Benefits 

  • Tones the belly
  • Stretches the ankles, groin and back torso

Modifications

People can often have strong feelings against this pose. To help you access the pose, you can place a block underneath your sit bones or roll a blanket or your mat underneath your heels if your heels are lifted off of the ground.

More benefits can be found at: Yoga Journal Yoga Poses Directory

Was this helpful to find your full malasana? What other poses do you want to learn about? Comment below!

Namaste

5 Reasons You Should Start Aerial Yoga Today

When I tell people that I practice and teach aerial yoga, they mostly think I’m crazy. I show them a picture to show them I’m not, yet somehow that makes it look even more crazy.

Maybe it is. But I dare you to EMBRACE the crazy!

Aerial yoga has so many amazing benefits for mind, body and spirit. Here are some of my personal favorite benefits of an aerial yoga practice.

aerial31. You get stronger.

When you start practicing aerial yoga, you will start to build strength quickly. One class you have a difficult time pulling yourself up for a pull-up and before you know it, it gets easier and easier every time you get to your hammock. While you build physical strength you build strength in yourself – you feel more confident to try to tricks in the hammock and you feel more confident outside of the classroom.

2. You find a full release of your spine.aerial4

Inverting in the hammock allows your spine to completely release. For anyone with low back issues (pretty much most of the population) from sitting and/or standing all day this is honestly the best workout to help ease the pain or discomfort. Speaking from someone who has herniated discs, practicing aerial yoga on a regular basis lessens my pain.

3. You get to act like a kid again.

Once you get older, how many opportunities are there to truly let go and act like a kid. In aerial, you can swing – realizing its a lot harder than you remember – spin, twist and fly. Who wouldn’t want a workout that has all of these fun components!

4. You release stress.

Exercise in general helps you to relieve stress. I think that aerial helps you relieve stress even more because you have to be focused on your practice in the hammock. Nothing has the ability to come into your mind to create stress. You are too busy thinking about the fact that you are upside down to worry!

aerial25. You forget your fears.

Be fearless when you walk into an aerial class. Our fear is often what holds us back – on the mat and off. Practicing aerial gives you more confidence – it allows you to face your fears head on with the support of the hammock and the instructor.

Go to class. Set no expectations. Leave your fear at the door. And fly!

 

 

Join me Sundays at 4:30pm for Intro to Aerial Yoga at Riverstone Yoga.

Pose of the Month: Downward Dog

I’m so glad you decided to check out the first pose of the month! Each month, I will randomly select a pose and break down the proper alignment.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

shannonyoga2

Downward dog is probably one of the most common yoga poses. You will typically find yourself in multiple downward dogs in a single yoga class. Teachers will often call this a “resting pose,” but if you’ve ever held the pose for a long time, you wouldn’t think so. A lot is happening with the body during this pose. As you begin to find the proper alignment, remember to focus on the breath. Each breath you take helps you sink deeper into the pose.

Key Cues

  • Press into all 10 fingertips – put extra weight into the pointer finger and thumb
  • Gaze towards the bellybutton
  • Push your sit bones towards the sky
  • Zip your front ribs together
  • Draw your shoulder blades down the back
  • Release your heels towards the ground

Benefits 

  • Strengthens the arms and legs
  • Energizes the body
  • Calms the brain
  • Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands

More benefits can be found at: Yoga Journal Yoga Poses Directory

Was this helpful to find your full downward dog? What other poses do you want to learn about? Comment below!

Namaste

Why Practice Yoga?

We can sit here all day and list the health benefits of a regular yoga practice, but in reality is that always the reason you come to your mat?

Whether its your first class or your hundredth, what is it that truly brings us to our yoga practice day in and day out?

Stress

At the end of the day, no matter what we do or how hard we try to fight it, we all combat stress on a regular basis. Whether its because we are going to a job we dislike, someone cutting us off in traffic, someone saying something in that tone (you know what I’m talking about!), we all get stressed and frustrated, rational or not. As someone who gets stressed out if dinner is taking too long, I can honestly say that this is one of the main reasons I take to my mat. When I started practicing yoga, I found something that had the most significant effect on me for managing my stress. I still experience stress, but at the end of the day – these things can be managed and yoga gets me to the calm that I need.

Exercise

Yoga is a full body workout. Practicing yoga on a regular basis, whether that is once or twice a week or everyday, will make you stronger in your body. Your muscles will be strong and you will notice a physical change.

Escape

Yoga, or any exercise or hobby, can be an escape for the practitioner.Whether we get to our mat to get out of the house for an hour, help us prepare for the day ahead, or wind down from the day, yoga is our personal escape. Maybe it also helps you escape yourself. By coming to the mat and focusing on the breath or the movement, we are not able to focus on the other things sprinting through our mind. It is an escape to the quiet.

Peace

I know as we move down this list, the reasons become less concrete but after years of practice, peace and calm is definitely a reason to come to your mat. When you practice yoga, you focus on quieting the mind; working out to work inside. For me, the days I don’t make it to my mat, I can feel that; in my attitude, in my response, in my body. When I make it a priority to get to my mat every single day (or however frequently you practice) I feel peace and calm over me for the entire day. I sleep better, I feel better, I am better.

 

What brings you to your mat?