Don't you love it when an opportunity to rethink, reimagine, or reconsider something mundane presents itself to you? Just last week in Online Yoga Membership (OYM) we did just that with something we yogis do so very often that it can start to lose the fullness of its meaning: Anjali mudra, or palms together at the heart. (See! It's so common and accepted it's an emoji!)
Bringing palms together at the heart is an ancient gesture of greeting and respect in Eastern cultures, and it has Western connotations of prayer. In yoga classes it often used at the beginning and end of class, as well as in some yoga poses throughout the practice. It is frequently paired with namaste, which is an acknowledgement of the Divinity in all, or as I was taught and will often say, "The light in me, bows to the light in you." Anjali means "offering."
But how much have you thought about the subtleties that can be found in this simple mudra?
Try it this way, and see...
You've heard the old saying, "Laughter is the best medicine," right? Well this is SO TRUE to my experience.
August 30 was a very sad day in the Goulding house. My mom's beloved boyfriend of 5 years was laid to rest. I traveled to Houston for the ceremony and burial. Our family, friends, and in-laws all gathered together to say goodbye and support my mom in this, her third, partner loss. Our hearts were tight and jaws were tense, to say the least.
Between the funeral and the burial there was some time to pass, which we did at a local restaurant. This is when I learned something about my brother that sent me into a laughing fit like I have never had before!
While his wife was scrolling the photos in his phone looking for the one she wanted to share with us, she casually said, "You have a lot of pictures of your alarm in here."
This little window into Whit's...
When someone asks you what you do for a living, do you have a good answer? Believe it or not, I get a little stymied. It usually goes something like this:
"What do you do?"
"I teach yoga."
"Really! What kind?"
At this point I kinda just stare and blink and try to come up with a decent answer that doesn't require a whole explanation! The best description I've been able to come up with is "alignment-based, contemplative, and therapeutic yoga."
Then it's their time to stare and blink a little bit.
Usually people know the word Hatha, which is my more succinct default answer. But after teaching for nearly 20 years, it's a lot more than that!
So as I was sitting down to describe the classes that are in the FREE Virtual Open House, I thought it was a good time to lay out the differences a little bit, especially between Hatha and Hatha Flow (both of which are in the Online Yoga Membership, or OYM).
I'd say the difference isn't always clear. Perhaps the answer lies in the...
Well, it's finally here. For many parents, grandparents, caretakers, teachers, administrators, guardians, and students young and old, it's back to school. In the Goulding house, this meant a big change.
In case you don't know my brood, I have two high schoolers: Havia (sophomore) and Nate (junior). They have had a long and winding road in the education arena, as they have been home schooled, co-schooled, charter schooled, and now public schooled. We have adapted their school choice to reflect the needs and values of our family at that moment in our lives, and it's been a really great journey.
So it wasn't incredibly surprising that Nate decided to change schools this year. His talents are emerging in the area of global history and economics, and he wanted to go to a school that focuses on that. But to change at junior year!
I could see the apprehension this morning.
So I had three things to tell him before he...
When you hear the word community, what is your response? Does it call to mind great friends? Positive organizations? Unwanted drama? Overcommitment? Refuge? Anxiety? Neutrality? Likely it depends on the group, and more than one of these often applies.
But here's the thing: Community is necessary for our health and well-being.
When I was training to be a Yoga Therapist, I was surprised to find out that this is one of the components of a new client intake. Regardless of the reason for requesting a session, part of our conversation is about the client's connection to community. This is considered an important piece of the puzzle when working towards systemic balance, happiness, and a long life.
In the yogic pancha maya kosha model, we are made of five layers, or sheaths: body, energy, mind, personality, and spirit. (Different lineages express this differently, but the overall ideas...
I'm back from a wonderful week with my family at Lake Okoboji, Iowa, our personal definition of heaven. I had a chance to let stress melt away and lightheartedness seep in. I read two novels, deepened my tan, and laughed a lot. It was just what the doctor ordered for this halfway mark in the year.
I realize the outer world didn't disappear while I was in my vacation cocoon, but where I placed my attention changed and I felt the effects all week. This reminded me of what I was talking about at the start of my June 9 class in Hatha, so if you'll indulge me, I'll share the intention-setting from that class with you here:
"It's a tough time to open the newspapers and look around. One could easily get dismayed or feel frustrated at the least, depressed at the most.
But here's the thing: we get to choose where we put our attention. This is not spiritual bypassing. This is actively using our mind in a positive direction. Where...
Well, I imagine like many of you I am ANGRY. Angry to the point of distraction! (And if you're not angry, stay with me. You will be at some point in the future, I'm sure.) In my morning meditation nothing was helping me get out of my thoughts. I couldn't get to my centering word. It felt flat and useless. Like a joke. There was no taming the rage. My head was pounding and my blood was boiling--on my mat!!
So I grabbed a rational moment when it came, and I went with what we practice in the good times so they're available in the bad times. I followed my anger to what so many wise ones have called the "thing behind the thing."
Why was I so very angry? What is behind it?
Because I love the women who are hurting and scared right now. Because I love a country that (historically) expands rights as it grows, not takes them away. Because now I know how to better love anyone in the world who has...
Is it just me, or did we go from crawling along to warp speed in a matter of months!? My hammock hangs listlessly in my back yard and my pile of ready-to-read books is gathering dust. As I watch the white space on my calendar shrink with each passing week, I realize I'm inching my way back into the old patterns I was happy to release during the pandemic.
Well no more! I was again inspired by the less-is-more lifestyle when I listened to the Hidden Brain podcast titled Do Less. In it, the host talks about how we are hard wired to add, but not subtract, things into our schedules, projects, businesses, and homes. So now I'm the Marie Kondo of my schedule. If it doesn't "spark joy," it's out! Only when we let go of some old things can new (and even better!) things find their way into our lives.
*For my online yoga peeps: this means you will no longer receive announcements when a new class is up. Just trust me--it's up ;)
Whew! If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is here! Even if you're in the cooler parts, you know the heat is on its way. So how can we get into the practice of cooling off before the heat builds up to a boiling point?
As I was moving rocks and pulling weeds in my backyard this weekend, I remembered my favorite tool for cooling off IN THE MOMENT. Those of you who have been studying with me for a while already know where I'm headed: sitali pranayama.
Pronounced shee-ta-lee, this cooling breath exercise may look a little silly, but it's well worth the embarrassment. (And if you're tuning out like, "I got this. Moving on!" then I challenge you to do one minute before you click the back button and see how you feel :)
Here's how to bring the cooling magic:
That's it! It's an easy and ...