Category Archives: 365

#365Yoga Day 365: Amazing Journey

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I cannot believe it is day 365.  Seriously?  It’s been an entire year?  Unbelievable.

I won’t go into a year end recap.  I find them trite and, honestly, 2011 has been one of the hardest years I’ve had in recent memory.  There have been many lessons learned this year, though, so for that I am grateful.  Sometimes lessons come at a hefty price and sometimes they hurt.  A lot.  Other times they come wrapped in a bow and arrive with chocolate and champagne.  I know which avenue I prefer, but you know, The Universe doesn’t ask us how we want to learn – it just gives us the opportunity (opportunities) to learn and to grow.  It’s up to us to step up to the plate and say YES, I’m ready.

Don’t get me wrong – there have been many amazing moments this year. I have been blessed beyond measure and if laughter were dollars, I’d buy the entire world a comedy club.  I have been places and done things I have never been or done before.  I have gotten the chance to sample the flavors of friendship and family (some, I am here to say, aren’t so palatable, but others are so delicious they make my toes curl in delight!) I have given to others and had others give to me and every morning I have woken up on this side of the dirt, so I think I did okay.

The #365Yoga journey was my constant companion and, as such, so were all of you who read this blog.  Every single day, I was aware that my yoga is a lifestyle, a way of being.  It carried me through the rough times and it also danced with me in the times of joy.  I learned much from this amazing journey and it is one that I will continue for the rest of my life, 365 days a year.  I hope that you will all join me on this path of love and light and learning and laughter and lessons.

I look back on 2011 with a sense of awe and gratitude, and I look forward to 2012 and the adventures it will bring.  I hope that you will share your experience with me – leave a comment and tell me all about it, eh?  I mean, we’re in this together, right?

What an amazing journey – thanks for keeping me company!

Namaste

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#365yoga Day 353: Simple Gifts

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It’s gift giving time again! The stores have been packed with harried people hunting and pecking for this toy or that toy, people have maced each other over flat screen tvs, there’s a waiting list a mile long for a few video games, and more people than you can imagine have maxed out their credit cards all in order to buy the “perfect” gifts.

I knew I was a grown up when I honestly and truly did begin to believe that it is much better to give than to receive.  It shocked me the first year that I realized that I didn’t really care if I got anything at all, but was overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of my loved ones opening up the gifts I had for them.  I have been blessed enough in my life to have received amazing things wrapped in pretty boxes and paper, but what makes my heart really dance with delight is seeing the shine in someone’s eyes when they accept a little piece of my love and affection and appreciation.  It truly is better to give than to receive.

That said, I am human.  Although I no longer expect them nor do I request or need them, I do like receiving gifts. I’m very lucky – I get gifts all the time!  Don’t be jealous – you do, too!  The trick is to recognize them.  Here’s a hint: they don’t always come wrapped in paper or with bows.  All you need is an attitude of gratitude and you’ll soon see that you are surrounded by gifts.  Be present to see your presents, you dig?  Here’s a few of the simple gifts I have received lately for which I am eternally grateful:

The gift of moving on.  When you have done all that you can do for / with / about a person or a situation and nothing seems to change, it is a gift to acknowledge that you have done all that you can do and then allow yourself to let it go and move on.  There is freedom in self-preservation and occasionally, freedom in goodbyes.

The gift of care.  I have been sick.  Kind of sick for quite a long time, really sick for several days.  I knew it was coming, but I’m stubborn and determined and, like a fool, I pushed through it only to have it come and bite me in the arse with a vengeance.  Eventually, I had no choice but to stop.  I had to start practicing self-care.  Part of self-care is accepting care from others.  I have been blessed with the care of my sister teachers at Yoga Sol who have covered my classes when I am too sick to teach.  I have been blessed by the care of my husband who lets me sleep in, spend hours in a steaming hot bath so that I can breathe, who has made meals and driven kids and rubbed my back.  I have been blessed with the care of my mom who watched my kids, brought me OTC medication, and offered love and support. And I have been blessed with the care of my friends who offer to bring soup, to send meds, to make me laugh through the yuckiness.  When I see each one of you, I see a bright red bow on your head.  Thank you.

The gift of a good deal.  Our refrigerator broke over a year ago.  It started freezing up and then leaking all over the floor.  It ruined produce and anything else that was in its ugly path.  For more than a year, we thawed everything out, tore the fridge apart, used every redneck repair you could imagine, and kept it limping along.  Refrigerators are expensive, folks, and when you live on a cash only existence, the idea of buying one is enough to make you lose your appetite.  2 weeks ago, however, it became abundantly clear we couldn’t keep kludging along; we needed to buy a new one.  We looked at used appliances and in the classifieds, but ultimately decided that we’d rather shell out the big bucks once than to shell out a little bucks every few months to keep buying used appliances.  We found a simple but adequate top-freezer fridge for $725 in a store.  As we were on the way to the sales person, we found a larger, higher end, side-by-side  on clearance because it a) didn’t have a box, and b) had a slight dent in the door.  It was $10 less! We very excitedly approached the sales person and told him of our desire to purchase this clearanced appliance (don’t we all have a little ding in our doors?) As he was ringing it up, he mentioned to my husband that he had a brand new, still in the box, even better model in the store-room that was $200 cheaper.  WHY was it so cheap?  Because it was white (no one buys white anymore – except us) and it was a model from June, so they weren’t putting it on the sales floor anymore.  It’s value was $1100.  Including tax and delivery, we paid $570.  Now, the sales person didn’t have to tell us about this deal.  And, if we hadn’t decided that a little ding in the door was okay with us, he’d never have known that we would consider a side by side with ice and water in the door.  Because we were willing to accept less than perfect, we got even more than we imagined we could and we paid even less than we had planned.  There’s a lesson there, folks.

The gift of perfect timing.  I love my husband.  Period.  Part of loving with him comes with dealing with and, to some extent, supporting his obsessions.  He doesn’t have many, but the biggest one he has is with Classic Toyota Landcruisers.  He LOVES them.  He bought his first one not long before we got together 12 years ago and hasn’t been without one since.  And by classic, I mean classic: his first one was a 1983 and his current truck is a 1985. I don’t get it.  They are old.  They require a lot of work.  They rust.  They fall apart.  They get horrible gas mileage.  They are also awesome, fun, and I cannot for the life of me think of a better suited vehicle for my husband.  But, like I said, they fall apart and they require a lot of work.  His current truck is due for relicensing and it probably won’t pass inspection as it is.  He has been stressed out about putting more money into this truck.  He wanted to find another one to buy and sell his (you wouldn’t believe Landcruiser nuts – they will by a burned out frame for $1000, for goodness sake.)  He hunted and searched and knew that, come December 31, he’d have to stop driving his truck.  Yesterday he got a phone call – someone he had been “truck courting” agreed to sell his 1986 (a’well, we’re movin’ on uuuuup.)  He’s picking it up tonight.  The timing couldn’t be more perfect, the negotiated price is acceptable, and my husband can finally breathe easier.  Believe me, he might be getting the truck, but I am getting the gift.

The gift of creativity.  I have been blessed with many things, but the one I love the most is my sense of creativity.  I like to give many gifts to my friends and family, but our budget doesn’t always allow for it.  This year, I am especially excited about 2 of the gifts I am giving.  They are perfect for the recipients, they are thoughtful and practical and really are perfectly designed for who the recipients are.  And neither of them cost me a single red cent.  I am grateful for my creativity – which also came to me for free.

The gift of saying “No.”  This is a new one! As i mentioned, I have been sick.  Last night was the annual huge blow out holiday party at my husband’s company.  It is always a big ol’ deal and people get crazy and wild and have a good time.  We had arranged for childcare, I had killer shoes to wear (my main requirement,) and had been looking forward it — until it got close to the time to leave.  I am sick.  I didn’t feel like going.  My husband isn’t feeling too well, either, and he didn’t feel like going.  We looked at each other and agreed – we wanted and needed to stay home.  So we did!  Another example: Every year we have been together, we have traveled on Christmas Day to visit his family.  We have always hated it.  We have children and it’s a huge pain in the ass to ask them to stop playing with their new toys to get in a car and drive out of town to visit people who drive us batty (us being me and my husband – the kids love them.) We decided this year that we would say, “No” to the trip out of town on Christmas Day.  We’ll make it the day before, but on Christmas, we are staying in town.  The sense of freedom is overwhelming! Who knew that a 2 letter word could open up the whole world?!

I could go on and on… the gift of gratitude, the gift of time, the gift of sleep, the gift of love, the gift of laughter… Gifts are EVERYWHERE and most of them don’t cost a dime.  All you have to do is look, accept, and say Thank you. This the gift to be simple.  Tis the gift to be free. Give and you shall receive.

#365yoga Day 324: Forever in Blue Jeans

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A student of mine recently said, “If you don’t want to sweat, don’t come to any of Sarah’s classes.”  She said this as she was rolling up her mat on a Friday, right after my most advanced class of the week.  Another student who overheard her comment in passing said, “Yeah, no kidding.  I’m dripping!”  I smiled at them and laughed at a job well done.  I believe strongly in the purifying power of sweat!  I love working hard.  I love heating up from the inside out.  I love melting and purifying and sweating it all out.  And I LOVE to give that opportunity to my students.  I have been called a hard teacher, a challenging teacher.  People have said that my classes are intense.  I didn’t used to think that was true, but maybe it is.

There is a time and place for arm balances, inversions, deep stretches, long holds, and power flows.  There is also a time for long silences, slow folds, extended sessions of guided meditation and focused pranayama. I admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to slow down.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to teach from a place of stillness, a place of slow and gentle movement of breath and body.  Figuring this out is part of my journey and I get the chance twice every Monday to work on it.  Gentle Yoga is the most challenging class for me because, I admit, my idea of gentle is often much different than others’ idea of gentle.  To me, gentle means no arm balances nor inversions, but good grief, that is still not exactly gentle!  I have to put myself in someone else’s mind, in someone else’s body, on someone else’s journey to figure out exactly what gentle should mean.

Not that that is so much different than what I do every time I teach a class.  Each time I roll out my mat in the front of the class, I look at my students and take stock of the energy of the room, of who is there and what they like, of what needs need to be met that particular practice.  More times than not, the class I planned gets thrown out the window (or least strongly modified) to fit the needs of that day.  Teaching yoga is a job that requires enormous flexibility – but only a portion of the flexibility need be in the body.  It’s about flexing the mind, flexing the spirit, flexing the boundaries.  Sometimes, like Mondays for me, it requires flexing the routine.

See, I have been teaching a lot of somewhat advanced, somewhat challenging classes lately.  I have started watching my mindset – I put on my yoga clothes and suddenly I’m planning which sequence to use to get into Astavakrasana, whether I should use the wall for Urdhva Dhanurasana or to do it mid-room, and whether to do Sirsasana or Pincha Mayurasana in class.  It is almost Pavlovian. While I don’t salivate when you ring a bell, I do most certainly want to flip upside down when I put on my Shining Shaktis.  As you can imagine, this doesn’t serve me well on Gentle Mondays.

I need to break the habit, so today I am teaching in blue jeans.  I’ll wait here while you pick your jaw up off the floor.  Yes, I’m teaching in blue jeans today.  Twice, in fact.  I have these amazingly stretchy jeans that are not quite jeggings (thank Elvis,) but are most certainly not yoga pants.  They bend and stretch and flow just like my yoga pants but, in fact, are street wear.  WHY in the world am I doing this, you ask.  I’ll tell you why: I am cozy in blue jeans.  I am gentle in blue jeans.  When I’m not in work, I’m ALWAYS in blue jeans (or leggings, but those are too dang much like yoga pants to break the habit.)  Blue jeans are my comfort zone, have been my entire life.  They aren’t fancy.  They aren’t advanced.  They aren’t “look at me.”  They are common, the clothing of the Every Man and Every Woman.  They are a perfect way for me to break the habit, to put on the breaks, and to be gentle.

We often get stuck in ruts thinking we have to go balls to the wall every single time we are on our mat.  Just because we can do 90 minutes of intense powerful flows and all the arm balances in the yoga book doesn’t mean that we have to, or even that we should.  Ganga White talks about working at 40% of your edge – doing only 40% of what you are capable of – and letting your yoga be that of exploring what comes up when you work well within your means.  Our yoga doesn’t have to be all that we can do.  Our yoga can occasionally – or even often be – a tiny fraction of that.  Yoga can be gentle.  Yoga can be silent.  Yoga can be perfectly still.  Yoga can be everything and nothing.

And yoga can be forever in blue jeans.

Namaste

#365yoga Day 323: The Girl Who Does Yoga

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I feel as though I have been teaching a lot.    I’m starting to show a little fatigue in my injured wrist and let me tell you, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt my psoas quite as much as I’m feeling it these days.  I wake up in the morning and have that (thankfully) fleeting moment of panic: what in the world can I possibly teach today?  What did I teach yesterday?  Is it all blending in together?  ARHG!!!

And then, when I have gotten myself all nice and wound up and freaked out, my kids will walk by me on the way to get a toy and, invariably, one or the other will either strike a pose, plop down in padmasana, or say “Namaste, Mama” and go about their way.  They don’t think about it.  They just do it.  And they don’t wonder if I’m thinking about it.  I just do it.

Just a few moments ago as I was surfing the web for new and exciting sequences, I came across this heartwarming, beautiful, simply inspiring video on YouTube.  It reminded me of the days when my boys were tiny and would climb all over me while I was on the mat.  It reminded me that yoga isn’t something that has to be always choreographed and rigid.  It reminded me that yoga is something that I do, it’s something that I am, and that it is in me because it is me and I am it.

Happy Sunday, Y’all.  Let your heart shine through.

#365yoga Day 314: Tell the Truth (or Yama Yo Mama!)

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I have an injured wrist.  I am not exactly sure what exactly caused it, but I believe it’s from over use and was compounded by tripping and catching myself on my wrist.  I have been saying it’s a stress fracture, because I honestly believe that’s what it is – a weakness in the bone and joint.  When someone asked me if the doctor wrapped it and gave me good meds … I paused.  I was tempted to say, “Yeah, but you know I don’t like taking pills and the wrap drove me insane.”  I mean, that is most likely what would have happened had I actually gone to the doctor, but I didn’t.  I self diagnosed a stress fracture and am self treating it with rest and modifications and Ibuprofen.  In the blink of an eye, however, I nearly told a lie.  I didn’t, I did tell the truth that I hadn’t seen a doctor, but I almost did lie about it.  And I have absolutely no idea why.

When I was a kid, I lied all the time.  I lied to get out of school, out of trouble, out of homework, out of housework.  As I grew, I lied about other things.  When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I lied about getting contacts.  My best friend had recently gotten them and I was so jealous I couldn’t see straight, so I spent a couple of days trying to make it through school without my glasses and looking like a fool until I was outed and I had to put them back on in shame.  Then when I was 13, I lied about sneaking out of my house in the middle of the night to hang out with some kids.  I never did that, but I said I did because I was living in a brand new town and wanted to make people think I was making friends and fitting in and having the time of my life, when really, I was sad and lonely and missed my former town and school and friends.  I lied about other things, too: where I got my clothes, what music I listened to, etc.  In high school, I once earned my entire Latin class extra credit on a test because I correctly guessed which song Don Henley played to open his most recent concert (the magister was a HUGE Eagles nut.)  I guessed correctly (“Dirty Money”, by the way) and said I had been there.  Total lie.  I hadn’t been there  – I just was lucky, I guess.  I lied all the time about little things like that – sometimes (although not often) about big things.  I never really thought about it— until someone I loved lied about a really big thing that changed my life forever.  I was never the same.  I felt betrayed, hurt … I felt lied to!  And that pissed me off like nothing ever had before or, frankly, ever has since.  I have been conscious of my words and actions every moment of every day since then and, while it would be a lie to say I never lie, I do it so rarely now it’s hard for me to remember the last time I actually told an untruth knowingly.

An odd thing happens when you decide to consciously live in, and tell, the truth: you start to be able to sniff a lie out a million miles away.  At least I can and, I have to say, I’m amazed at how many people lie and what people choose to lie about.  Just like I used to do, most people lie about piddly stupid things that don’t matter anyway!  “I don’t color my hair!” “Oh yeah, I read that book, too.” etc.  It makes me angry.  It’s one thing to lie like that when you’re a child, but as adults, it’s just stupid.  No one cares if you color your hair, if your shoes cost $20 or $200, if you’re reading a book for the first or the 40th time, if you can touch your toes or your nose, if you weigh 120 or 150 pounds.  No one cares! You aren’t impressing us.  In fact, by lying about those things, you’re cheating us out of knowing the real you.

But maybe we tell lies about ourselves because we don’t really know ourselves?  Or like ourselves? Because we don’t think we are good enough, smart enough, thin enough, social enough, pretty enough, strong enough, brave enough, enough enough?  Maybe all of the above.  And lying isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about what you do!  I caught myself holding my stomach in today in the shower!  I mean, COME ON!  It was like I was trying to hide from / lie to myself! Not good – and certainly not the life I want to be living.

Patanjali writes about the 8 limbs of yoga in his famous Sutras.  Satya, or truthfulness, is right up there at the top – it’s one of the Yamas and it comes in second only to Ahimsa – do no harm.

2.36 As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the Yogi.
(satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam)

Satya encompasses not only our words, but our thoughts and our actions.  If we think we are better than someone else, we are judging.  That judgement separates us from other people, but also from our true self which is the same as the true self of everyone else in the world.  If we do things that we are not yet ready or capable of doing, for instance a complicated yoga posture, we are harming ourselves not only physically, but also by pulling ourselves off our own rightful path. When we tell someone a lie about ourselves (what we do, what we think, what we feel, what we know,) we are depriving them of the joy of truly knowing us and we are denying ourselves the gift of true intimacy with another person.  And… if you hold in your stomach while you’re alone in the shower, ahem, you’re cheating yourself out of loving and accepting yourself exactly as you are.

The truth will set you free, so they say.  I believe it.

And just so we’re clear: Yes, I color my hair.  Yes, I do wear contacts.  No, I do not have a flat stomach. Yes, I can touch my toes and my nose and my nose to my toes. No, I didn’t go to the doctor.  Yes, I play one on tv.  No, I don’t.

Whew! I feel better already!

#365yoga Day 311: Something’s Got a Hold on Me

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Well, dang it, this is the 2nd time I have tried to write this post. WordPress ate the first version.  I shall try again!

I know it has been a long time since I have written here.  It blows my mind how fast time passes.  The fact that it is already the 311th day of the year boggles my mind.  Where does it go? What have you been doing?  I know what I have been doing – YOGA!  Lots of yoga – and learning new stuff all the time.

I love Yoga Sol for many reasons.  I feel deeply connected to the space and the business and the people who call it their practice home.  It is beautiful.  It is unique.  It is accepting and open and fun.  We have more than 20 classes a week and, while we are predominately a flow studio, we are by no means only a flow studio!  We have Atma Jayam, Dance Flow, and Iyengar.  Our teachers have multiple styles and teaching backgrounds, but they all have a passion for teaching and they all bring something wonderful and unique to the studio.

Our Iyengar teacher, Netta Sella (Google her – you’ll be blown away by her awesomness,) has taken Yoga Sol by storm.  Netta brings discipline, alignment, history, anatomy, and props to our students.  Lots of props.  Many props.  And we love her for it.  As the Iyengar practice grew at Yoga Sol, more props started showing up.  Pretty soon, Netta’s following spread far and wide and her classes filled beyond expectation.  It became clear that we had the opportunity to add one more thing to Yoga Sol that would make us stand out amongst other yoga studios in town: a Yoga Kurunta wall of ropes.

Yesterday, most of the teachers of Yoga Sol and a couple of students gathered together to learn how to use this amazing wall safely, how to teach it safely and mindfully, and how to use it to help people reach their best alignment, modifications, and extension.  Netta led us through 2 hours of training and laughing and correction.  I have been practicing yoga for half of my life and I must say, the 2 hours of using those ropes yesterday opened my eyes like it was the first time I ever rolled out a mat.  The length of my body, the extension, the openness of my heart and shoulder girdle, the decompression of my spine…!  Incredible.  Just marvelous!

I have taught the wall a bit here and there last week and again today.  I will be using more often as it has the potential to transform a practice like nothing I have ever seen before.  I am thrilled to say that it’s a part of Yoga Sol and am so grateful to this path I am walking that has brought me to this place.  It has definitely got a hold on me – and I feel so good!

The following pictures are from yesterday’s training.  Most were taken by Netta, one or two were taken by Beatriz Wallace.  Many thanks to you both for allowing me to post them here.

#365yoga Day 282: Every Time You Say Goodbye

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One of my favorite gifts of my life-long commitment to yoga is that I actually feel what I’m feeling.  One of my least favorite gifts of my life-long commitment to yoga is that I actually feel what I’m feeling. It used to be that I would have a feeling (or, honestly, a hint of a feeling) and if it wasn’t something that was particularly awesome, I would gloss over it, turn the page, look the other way, stuff it down, ignore it, or even worse, claim it as stupid or unimportant and dismiss it entirely.  I cannot do that anymore.  My feelings arise and I they are real and I cannot hide from them.  No, wait, let me own this: I do not hide from them.  Front and center, there they are.  I have learned that feelings are not facts, and that has helped me tremendously, but still – they are feelings and they are strong and they hurt.

As I mentioned the other day, I have been raising 10 puppies.  I never wanted puppies. My husband tried to convince me forever to get a puppy instead of a mature dog and I steadfastly refused.  I mean, honestly, I have potty trained 2 humans, that was more than enough for me.  Regardless, when Audrey came with extra unexpected baggage, I settled in for the long haul.  I stayed up and awake with Audrey while she labored and birthed her pups – I even taught a 7am class after having not slept in 30 hours, thankyouverymuch.  I drew on my doula days and it came naturally for me – I couldn’t and wouldn’t leave her unattended.  I saw 8 of the 10 born(two were born while I was teaching.)  My children saw some pups born.  My husband witnessed leaving the room for a second only to return to find a newborn, still in the sack, puppy.  Puppies don’t stay tiny and blind forever.  They grow and start to eat and climb and tear things up.  They start to poop.  And poop.  AND POOP.  We built and outdoor run.  They tore it down.  We built another outdoor run.  They tore that down.  We built Fort Knox security fence run – they didn’t tear it down, but still found an escape hatch.  My basement is covered in the poop of 10 puppies.  We clean it up, they poop more.  2 weeks ago, they started going through 45 pounds of dog food every 5 days.  It’s more than that now.  We have ruined our washing machine with poo and pee covered bedding.  We have lost almost 1/4 acre of grass.  We have spent close to $700 on these little tykes in 8 weeks – money we didn’t necessarily have to give.  We have lost sleep and sanity and freedom.

And we’re all falling apart when they leave.

This morning, the 2nd puppy of the pack went to his new home. In a few hours, another 2 will be leaving.  Somewhere in there, a 5th might find their new home.  We have already sent our only girl to her new place last week.  It’s a bittersweet joy.  I am tired of all the chaos.  I am tired of losing sleep and money and a fresh-smelling home.  I am ready to be done with the noise and the expenditure and the mess.  And yet, when I think of a morning when I don’t stumble to the basement and let all of the barking, whining, squalling puppies out into the yard without the benefit of even peeing first, much less the benefit of a cup of coffee, I get a little wistful.  I snuggle them, I play with them, I feed them, I bathe them (a 2 hour affair 2x a week,) …. I love them.

And now I say goodbye.

So, you ask, where is the yoga in all of this?  One of the most profound parts of yoga I have experienced (and attempt to teach) is the concept of using what you need to use and letting all the rest go.  Take Virabhadrasana 2 – you don’t need your jaw for that pose, so release it.  You don’t need you tongue or your eyes, so release them.  You don’t need shoulder tension, so let it go.  I don’t need 10 puppies – I need to let them go.

In yoga, we learn from what comes up – and we might not always be able to predict what arises in our bodies, in our minds, our in our hearts.  I couldn’t have predicted 10 puppies when I adopted a stray dog, but that’s what I got.  After the weeks of lost sleep, lost money, and lost sanity, I could not have predicted that I’d bawl my eyes out as they left – and yet, that’s what I got.  I have learned to stay in the moment, to feel my feelings, to simply BE with what is, and that is all due to my yoga practice.

Ir hurts when they leave, but I am so grateful to have had the experience at all.  Good and bad.  Light and dark.  Joy and grief.  Hatha, all the way.  Yoga —- something that will never require a Good-bye.

Namaste