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Letting Go of the Plan

I hope you're feeling well today. I just returned from a delightful weekend in Mexico City with Nick and the kids. We had mostly beautiful weather, and we immensely enjoyed the food, the architecture, and the people we met and saw.

 

Not all vacations are delightful, as I'm sure you know. Beyond the things out of our control, I think a lot depends on our attitude. To each his/her own, but I like trips with lots of space for nothing. For example, we had lots of plans to see different sites and get to all the museums you're "supposed" to see there. But when Sunday morning presented us with a beautiful day where everyone took to the streets and the parks (MANY on roller blades--what a sight!), we decided to slow ourselves down a bit as well and just enjoy the city like those who live there. We watched groups rehearsing for a TikTok (we think), young couples practicing for their first dance, toddlers chasing soccer balls, and percussionists providing a background beat to the whole...

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A Practice for Peace

When I was around 10 years old I received First Holy Communion. (This is when Catholics learn the meaning of the Eucharist and how to take it during mass.) We had to learn some prayers and traditions to go with the sacrament. It was at this time that I received a little white book with a plastic cover and a rosary. I don't remember what the book was called, but I know it had the instructions for the rosary prayer beads.

 

And, like a devout little Christian, I remember kneeling at my bedroom bay window and learning the prayers of the rosary. I was amazed at how simple it was. It was a couple prayers I knew, plus Hail Marys, which I did not. But once you've recited it 50 times, you've got it. There was something about this simple repetition that I loved.

 

From that time through my mid-twenties, there was a rosary under my pillow and the prayers were the last thoughts going through my head every night as I fell asleep. It was a beautifully peaceful way to fall asleep. The...

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Get Out of Your Own Way

Have you ever had one of those days that started out as one thing, then ended up taking you in a very surprising, and exciting, direction? I certainly did this week!

I was digging into my plans for the Blossom & Bliss women's retreat, and I realized that we have a campfire! And what goes with a campfire, but songs? So I started to make a list of songs I know that might be good contenders for our group...and then I realized: I can't sing, and I've never led songs before. Bummer.

BUT I REALLY want to have a sing-along. There are so many great benefits to communal singing, like 

~ reduced stress hormones.

~ increased cytokines, proteins that can boost the body’s ability to fight serious illness.

~ lessened anxiety.

~ stimulated memory.

~ increased lung capacity.

 See The Washington Post article

and more! Singing stimulates Chakra Five, which houses our ability to communicate our truth and be a good listener. Creating sound through buzzing, humming, singing, and...

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Your Energy and Vitality That Comes From Within

 

Now that we are back in action in Monday Morning Yoga, I'm again reminded of something I love to see in a group practice: the generative energy of asana!

Since asana simply means posture, you are actually in an asana right now as you sit (or stand) and read these words. And how is your seated posture? Do you succumb to gravity and slouch, or is there a lift within you that, at first, takes effort, and over time gets easier?

When we forget that we can be our own engines of energy, we tend to shrink down and collapse a bit. Our breathing gets shallower as our diaphragm has less space to move and pull oxygen into our lungs. We get tired, even sad. Then core muscles grow weaker and aches and pains ensue.

But you are generative! You have "the power or function of generating, originating, producing, or reproducing." ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

 

Just try this with me:

~ Whether you're sitting or standing, interlace your fingers on the crown of your head.

~ Now pull down on...

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Three Types of Adventure

Every Monday, at the end of the day, I settle into my favorite comfy chair in the front room next to Lila, our sweet Red Heeler dog, and I write my blog. Ideas of what I want to say to you are always bouncing around in my head. My phone is full of little voice memos to myself and dictated notes of things I want to share. I always want these weekly love notes to be of value to you, whether that's to make you think, help you remember, inspire you, give you a treat, or just plain inform you of what's going on. 

 

Today the theme of adventure is on my mind as I'm warm inside while it's literally freezing outside. To have an enjoyable outdoor adventure would require getting out of town. So I'm dreaming about that. Also, snuggling up inside is a perfect time for yummy meditation, like an inner adventure. So I'm dreaming about that, too. And sometimes we like to go on adventures that take us deeper into self knowing and the journey is simply the path of life. I'm dreaming of that...

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3 ways I use the chakras as a valuable framework

I hope easing into 2024 has been a breeze for you so far. Today the wind was HIGH in Austin, but I went on my bike ride anyway.  My 35 minute ride took almost an hour! It didn't seem to matter if I downshifted, upshifted, or just decreased the resistance. That wind was going to win, and the windbreaker I was wearing didn't break a thing. 

 

When I have extra long bike rides I have extra time to think, and these days I'm thinking about chakras a little extra as I prepare for our workshop on Thursday.   

 

Chakras are part of your subtle body system; your energetic self. You can't see them, but they spin like gears and encounter the world around you and create the world within you. This can be hard to wrap the mind around. I get it. Truth be told, I don't think we have to understand or believe all that to make the chakras, and the study of them, valuable, applicable, and pragmatic.

 

Here are 3 ways I use the chakras as a valuable framework for...
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Winter Solstice Blessings from Inside My Acorn

Happy Winter Solstice! This is the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, or the longest night, depending on how you look at it. I like to focus on the night aspect, because it's the longer nights that create the space for longer silence.

 

I imagine in the pre-industrial days this time of year was very quiet. Activity quieted down when the sun went down, so more hours to read, sleep, and chitchat by the fire. I've actually been feeling like doing just that ever since an acorn hit me on the head in mid-September while I was walking a labyrinth.

 

I've been in "Acorn Time," as I've taken to calling it.

 

Without much warning, rhyme, or reason, my creative drive has slowed down and my productivity is low. And rather than fight it, I've gotten curious about it. I've allowed myself to follow my cravings, whether it's for a nap, a walk, a cookie, or a night out. Despite how awesome all that sounds, because my natural tendency is to plan and produce, this has...

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Whirling with Joy

 I hope you’ve taken some time to consider how to make these holidays happier by living with purpose, seeking enjoyment, and fostering satisfaction. (Doesn’t sound familiar? You can catch up on my blog post How to Have Happier Holidays.) 

 

That was what I THOUGHT was going to be the theme of the Yoga Community Gathering last weekend, but, as I said at the time, that’s not the class that wanted to be taught. The one that wanted to be taught was about JOY. So I had to follow the thread!

 

We were inspired by the newsletter from the Center for Action and Contemplation, and the writing of Fr. Richard Rohr about his time in Istanbul:

 

“I attended the prayer of the Sufi whirling dervishes. Again, in this sacred dance, there was a spinning around a calm and fixed center. In fact, a dervish cannot fake a calm center and survive the prayer. One foot has to be firmly, calmly grounded in a Stable Love or they cannot do the dance…”...

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How to Have Happier Holidays

I hope your Thanksgiving was restful or exciting, whichever direction you wanted it to go. Mine was a little of both–restful with family, fun, and food, and exciting–How ‘bout those Texas Longhorns?  

 

Either way, I hope it was happy. I’ve been following the recent press about Oprah’s new book, “Build the Life You Want: The Art and Sciences of Getting Happier.” She co-wrote it with Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks, who teaches a class all about happiness, and has written other books on the topic as well.

 

Whenever I hear about a new research on happiness my ears and interest definitely perk up. After all, happiness is a basic human desire I think we all have, so the quest for it captures my attention every time. Yoga also has a long history of helping people make their lives happier through the balance and awareness of mind, body, and spirit, so it's kinda my jam.

 

This quest for happiness has been going on for...

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It Takes Two

Did you know I've been writing this blog/email every week since September, 2020?  Obviously if you've been a student of mine since before then you heard from me a lot previously, and I have missed a week here and there, but pretty much every Tuesday morning you can count on me showing up in your inbox with something to say, offer, question, or promote. And as we enter this month of gratitude, I am so very grateful for your readership, response, and engagement. Some of you I've known for over a decade, some of you just joined up through my podcast or a friend sharing an email. Regardless, there are now over a thousand of you who receive my missives, come to events, listen to my podcast, or study with me online. We are a strong bunch of yogis, and it is my immense pleasure and joy to connect with you here every week. So thank you for reading! 

 

This week I want to reiterate what Jess on the Mountain podcast episode 30 is all about, and invite you to two...

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