Summer! It has finally arrived and so much has happened here at Radiant Soul Yoga! Time flies and things change and I have rolled out the new summer schedule amidst the crazy that is my life. I have officially retired from daycare, survived an epic daycare closing garage sale, am in the process of donating the remaining items and slowly transforming my home, yard and, yes, life in preparation for the next phase of living. After all, isn't that what life is? A continuous series of transformations, growth and change. As I continue to move forward on the yogic path in this glorious season we call summer I wanted to let you know about a few of the happenings going on with me and my classes.
When I am not practicing my skills on the paddle board, huge area of growth and transformation here, or gardening I am - what else - teaching and practicing yoga! I have classes at Yoga One in Alex, Life Quest Chiropractic and Sports and Cornerstone Martial Arts. This means that I have a class for everyone! To see my full schedule and class details go to Radiant Soul's Classes page. And on July 27th I invite you to join me at Dragon Willow Winery for yoga in the vineyard! Please visit Uncork and Unwind to express interest. This is a fun all levels event and there is a no wine pricing option for the not quite 21 year old's. I will have a limited number of mats (bring your own if you have) available for use.
Please join me on the mat in class, or in spirit this summer and continue in your own personal pursuit of Positive Lifestyle Practices!
Spring! Its coming! What's new at Radiant Soul Yoga?
Rainy windy weather is melting the snow at a record pace today and has me dreaming of springtime. A time where everything is fresh, new and fragrant with lilies of the valley, lilacs and apple blossoms. Green grass, the return of the robins, leaves on the trees, oh my! Spring is calling! So many new births, transformations and awakenings happen during this magical time and I think many of us - I know I do - go through some kind of spring transformation as well. Shedding our winter skin - bulky sweaters, coats, hats, mittens, boots - and attitudes in preparation for the warm, long, prosperous yet carefree days of summer.
I feel it every year, this spiritual rebirth. This sense of renewal is especially strong for me this year as I begin a major life transition. I have decided to retire from running my full-time daycare. For the last decade, while putting my daughters through college, I have been working the full-time and then some gig of family daycare. My work day starts at 6:30 am and ends hopefully at 5:30 pm with the last toy on the shelf, my floors swept, and me happily exhausted. I have had the pleasure of helping to raise over 30 children in this decade!
I am not going to lie, I will not miss the daily clutter of toys, periods of excess noise, the constant cooking, dirty dishes, and all those poopy diapers! But I will miss the kids. Oh, how I will miss them! Those sweet, usually smiling, faces with all the hugs and kisses and unconditional love! It is not going to be easy saying that final goodbye to my amazing families and because of that this was not a decision easily made.
Life, I have learned, doesn't always present us with easy decisions or choices. A year ago in April I completed my 200 Hour YTT Certification and began teaching yoga on the side. And then ten months ago I became a grandma. Now I realize that these two events are not even remotely related, but they simultaneously contributed to my decision to have more availability in my schedule.
I realized that to be the kind of Grandma I need to be, I couldn't be tied down to an eleven hours a day/five days a week job anymore. My angelic granddaughter lives an hour and a half away, not too far I know, but far enough to prevent a quick drop in after working an eleven hour day. My heart yearns to be available, to be there, for no other reason than it's a Tuesday morning and I want to take her to the park!
I know, it's unrealistic to want to live this way. I have bills. I have responsibilities. There are rules and guidelines that I MUST follow or.... or what? The sun won't rise tomorrow? My neighbors will shun me? My bills won't get paid? Ok, this is a real concern, but manageable with budgeting and cutting back on extra expenses. Life after all, is a balance of give and take. Of what we can have/do and what we can't and maturity is accepting the responsibility and risks of our actions.
And then there is yoga! Wow! What a game changer! Life is calling me not only to be a real presence in my granddaughter's life, but also be a real presence in our local yoga community. I have so many things I want to share with people about yoga. The physical benefits. Mental benefits. The overall sense of wellness that a yoga practice can give you. I want to increase my teaching, add more classes/workshops and reach more people. The process of implementing all this change, has been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I will not pretend that I don't feel a real sense of loss at letting go of my daycare business, with its set hours, predictable income and all those kiddos whom I love like they are mine. Replacing all that consistent stability with the unpredictably of starting this new adventure/business of teaching yoga as my only income is, quite frankly, very scary. Will I make enough money? Will people like what I'm offering? Will they come to my classes? More than once????
I am taking a deep breath here as I deliberately set all these fears aside.... Inhale. Exhale. Okay.
I AM super excited to be moving forward on this amazing yoga journey, and hopefully do not sound too corny or overly spiritual here, as I admit that I feel strongly called to teaching yoga. Yoga, after all, has completely changed my life and I have this overwhelming desire to share this amazing practice/experience with as many people as I can, for as long as I can.
So what IS new at Radiant Soul Yoga?
In the past year I have completed my YTT 200 Hour Certification, taken a sequencing course, a yoga anatomy course, completed my Senior Yoga Certification and I am finishing up Jason Crandell's Teaching Beginners 30 Hour online course. And next weekend I will be attending the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. (Yay! Super excited about this!)
Classes and Workshops:
I will be continuing my partnership with Yoga One and will be adding more classes to their schedule beginning in June. Watch for a Gratitude and Mindfulness workshop, a Continuous Flow Yoga class and I will continue to teach my Beginner Vinyasa class on Wed's at 5:45 pm. Yoga One (609 1/2 Broadway, Alex)
Starting Friday March 29th I will be teaching Stretch It Out Friday! at Cornerstone Martial Arts (Carlos Corners) at 5:30 pm.
Starting Thursday April 4th I will be teaching Intro to Yoga at Life Quest Chiropractics (123 3rd Ave E. Suite 100, Alex) and starting Wednesday June 5th I will be teaching Early Morning Power Yoga at 6:00 am at Life Quest Chiropractic .
For more information on the classes listed above check out the "Class Information" button below and stay tuned for more classes and workshops to come as spring continues to unfold.
Resolutions and Sun Salutations!
Resolutions are everywhere. Big ones. Little ones. Life changing commitments are all around us. Are you making any this year? I admit to feeling the pull of all the familiar commitments of years past wanting to resurface. Lose weight. Exercise more. Spend less. Save more. Do more. Be more.... But this year I am resisting. I am going to swim against the current of resolution makers everywhere and not set big, specific, unrealistic goals for myself that I will never be able to keep.
This year I am keeping it simple. This year I am committing to be kinder and more gentle with myself. I am committing myself to paying more attention to my own needs and not feeling guilty when I need to put myself first.
As a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and an income earner I tend to spend all of my time taking care of other people and I bother very little with the practice of self care. In fact, I can become so ensnared in the cycle of constantly putting off my own needs in deference to EVERYONE ELSE, that I end up feeling bitter and angry with myself. So no more.
This year of 2019 is the year where I start taking better care of me and then allowing this new me - who's needs are being met - to give care and love to those around me as I am able. Only as I am able.
I started off my New Year's Day and my new commitment to myself with a ceremonial 108 Sun Salutations. I know! At the beginning of this article I said "kinder and more gentler with myself"! And I was. I took this practice slowly and with specific intention. The first set of thirty-six Sun Salutations were with the intention of peace, love and gratitude towards myself. The second thirty-six were with the intention of peace, love, and gratitude for my community, and the last thirty-six were with the intention of peace, love and gratitude for the world. Did you see what I did there? Right out of the gate, at 10:00 o'clock in the morning on January 1st, I dedicated my first set of Sun Salutations to myself. One small step in the right direction.
As a yoga practitioner any time you come to the mat, whether in a class setting or on your own, that practice is yours. Whatever your instructor or your mind - if you are practicing alone - is telling you to do is, in the end that direction is optional. If you get tired during a practice, you take child's pose - a physical and mental break from what everyone else is doing - and rejoin the class when you are ready. If a pose is presented that is unattainable to you for what ever reason you either skip it, modify it or substitute a different pose in it's place. That is one of the many beautiful things about yoga. It is a personal journey that can be taken alone or with the guidance of an instructor.
So, today, when I got together with my fellow practitioners for our 108 Sun Salutations it was with the knowledge that, yes I was intending to complete 108 sun salutations, but perhaps, for any number of reasons, I may not. Maybe my muscles will become too fatigued and I'll need to stop early, maybe an injury comes up and I cannot finish, maybe I'm fighting an illness and the symptoms will require me stop early.... whatever the reason could be, I always go into a practice of with the intention of finishing and the knowledge that I may not. AND that's why during the 108 Sun Salutations my first set of intentions was for myself. Because in the practice of self care, you take care of yourself first and then others. Isn't yoga awesome like that?
If practicing self care through yoga is on your New Year's List this year consider checking out a yoga class or two with me. I would love to practice with you. To view my schedule and the classes I offer click on Classes and, as always, feel free to contact me for more information.
Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year full of sun salutations, down dogs and many many child's poses.
See you on the mat in 2019!
Positive Lifestyle Practices through Yoga
Grandmas do Yoga
I am a Grandma and I love it. I will be turning 50 this summer and now even more than ever I think about the care I am taking of my body. I want it to last another 50+ years, so I eat right, I drink lots of water and I practice yoga.
Did you know that a consistent yoga practice increases flexibility and improves balance? Because of its powerful effect on stress and hypertension
it can help reduce peoples needs for medication, improve bone strength and density,
increase joint mobility, and improve cognition.
Who doesn't want all that?
I started practicing yoga in my mid-forties. I was falling into that middle age weight gain, my neck ached, I had chronic headaches, charlie horses in my legs almost every night and I suffered from painful tension, tightness and muscle spasms in my shoulders. I thought it was all just part of getting older and didn't
think there was anything I could do about it.
I didn't know anything about the practice of yoga, let alone all the health benefits, and only attended my first class because my daughter talked me into it. And I will freely admit it took a lot of talking. I was convinced the experience would be horrible, I would be terrible at it and everyone would judge me. I am not traditionally athletic and felt that there was no way I could be successful in any group fitness class.
The first thing I learned that night is that yoga is non-competitive. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing , they are focusing on their practice and you are focusing on yours. The second thing I learned is that I wasn't expected to be able to do everything and no one was going to pass judgement on me for not having perfect posture in any pose. And the third thing I learned that night was that at the end of practice we got to lay on the floor and basically take a nap in this pose called shavasana. It was HEAVEN on earth!
I walked out of that first class feeling more grounded and relaxed than I had in years.
I knew, even before I got to my car, that I was going back.
And I did. Soon I was taking two classes a week and feeling better than I had in years. I felt taller, the cramps in my calves went away, my shoulder were starting to loosen up, no more spasms and I felt emotionally more grounded than I had in years. I lost weight and I was getting stronger.
I was doing nothing but yoga and it was working for me.
It is still working for me. I love my practice, I love my body and the way I feel in it. I love sharing this wonderful gift of yoga with my students and will continue to follow this life passion of mine as long as I can.
I invite you to join this Grandma on my yoga journey. Take a class, see for yourself how you feel,and lets take care of our bodies together.
Positive Lifestyle Practices through Yoga
Yoga Hair, No Makeup, Don't Care
To put it mildly the weather here in Minnesota over the last couple of weeks has SUCKED! Please pardon my course language. We went from a gloriously hot 90 degree weekend into the deepfreeze, virtually overnight, and it stuck. Worse yet, it isn't going away anytime soon. Okay, okay! I'll dial the drama back a tiny bit. It's not the deep freeze yet, temps are hovering in the low to mid 40's with a wicked damp wind and heavy dark clouds and I hate it. I need sun! I need warm weather! I need the water works to stop! I swear the sun hasn't shone in over two weeks. And there is rain in the forecast for the next three days. THREE MORE DAYS!
Cue the dramatic music.
I woke up this morning to another dark dreary day and wondered if maybe I should just stay in my warm bed. But life commitments, namely the persistant whining of my dog, prevailed on me to throw open the covers, draw on a warm pair of socks and a hoodie and take him outside. Upon returning from a very successful trip to the doggie potty the pooch made himself comfy on the couch and in record time was sound asleep... again. I, on the other hand, trudged grumpily around the kitchen making coffee and turning on all the lights in an effort to force the gloom out of the room. I thought about turning on the Sunday morning news, decided against it, too depressing. I tried listening to a motivational podcast and kept zoning out and missing the content. I then tried to focus my listless attention on a couple of yoga workshops idea I have been thinking about hosting over the next couple of month and got no further than staring blankly at the page I had wittily titled
Yoga Workshop Ideas. Oh, this was going to be a long miserable day!
What to do? What to do? Netflix binge? No! That would be admitting defeat and I am not a quitter! I stubbornly threw open the tupperware cabinet and rearranged my plastic containers, discarding the lids and bowls that no longer had mates hoping against hope for some feeling of accomplishment. Nothing.
That cabinet would be a complete mess again in a week.
Now what? Amazon Prime movie? No way! I was not going to plop my hind end on the couch and wallow in my misery, besides the dog was still sprawled out over most of it, there wasn't any room for me anyway. Sigh.
So was this really going to be a wasted day? One of those days where nothing gets done
and you drop into bed at the end of it feeling edgy at the lack of accomplishments?
Truth be told, I knew all along what I needed to do. I knew it from the moment I drug myself out of bed this morning. I had been in denial. I was hugging selfishly onto a nasty procrastination of the one thing that would help me throw off this depressive funk I was in. Because if I am going to be completely honest here there was a tiny corner of me that was thoroughly enjoying the crappy mood I was in. That little dark creature that lives inside all of us (mine has the voice and attitude of J. R. R. Tolkien's Gollum) that says things like,
"Yeeesss, we deserves to be miserable my precious. We is entitled to it, we is."
Well, it was time to nip that "nasties voice" in the bud and get on with what I needed to get on with.
Grudgingly I climbed the stairs to my bedroom and found a pair of yoga pants and a top and just as grudgingly I went back downstairs and retrieved my mat. I rolled it out and turned on my "go to" app. The one I use when I need to be a student, not the teacher. I turn to it in those times when I just want to be told what to do and not think about what the next pose needs to be, could be, should be... And then, without any pomp or circumstance, I hit the mat. I hit it hard. I chose a fast pace, arm balance (my personal nemesis) focused
60 minute practice and threw myself into it.
Now, I am not going to try and tell you that it was the most amazing practice of my life, or that once I started my gloomy mood suddenly lifted and the rest of my day was sunshine and roses. There is still no sign of the sun and the roses have all died of the cold. But I will tell you that I felt a million times better afterwards. I had sweated and moved my way through a 60 minute therapy session and came out the other side feeling more grounded and focused than when I went in. The listlessness was gone.
Yoga is like that. It can lift a bad mood, shift your perspective, rearrange your priorities and help you move on with the rest of your day. All you have to do is show up. And that, my friends, is the hard part. Showing up.
In conclusion, my advice, my wish, my fervent hope is that, when your inner Gollum voice has taken over and you are feeling miserable and defeated, you show up. Just show up.
Come to the mat and let the yoga take over.
Positive Lifestyle Practices through Yoga
Figure Four Poses
First a disclaimer: I am the model and cameraman for this article and not a professional at either, so please forgive the poor lighting, off center and unbalanced shots. Not to mention the seemingly grumpy and otherwise goofy facial expressions. I was so busy trying to get into position before my ten second timer went off that I forgot to smile like Cindy Crawford or be as glamorous and poised as Naomi Campbell. But, all that being said, I still think there is value in the pictures I took and so I will doggedly post them and hope that you will be able to see past the superficial inadequacies and find benefit in the content.
One of the best things about a figure four stretch is how accessible it is to every level of practitioner. A practitioner can access this stretch seated in a chair, from tadasana (tree pose), chair pose, seated on the floor, lying supine on the floor, and lying prone on the floor (pigeon pose). No matter which variation of figure four pose you choose you are going to get a great hip opener and glut stretch and relief from low back tension. If you choose one of the standing postures you add the benefit of strengthening the quads, foot and ankle muscles, toning the core muscles, and practice with balance and concentration.
So lets take look at the different options for figure four.
~ Positive Lifestyle Practices through Yoga ~
Figure Four Seated in a Chair
Figure Four Seated in a Chair
You will need a chair, perhaps a blanket to sit on and a block or a stack of books if your feet do not comfortable reach the floor. Start by sitting tall in the chair, one foot placed firmly onto the floor or block. Cross one foot over the top of the thigh on your opposite leg, right next to the knee joint, but not directly on it. Keeping your crossed foot flexed and starting with a long spine. On an exhale begin to fold forward (any amount) over your crossed legs. This can be a little movement or a big one depending on the flexibility of your hips.
Stay a while and breath into this nice stretch.
On an inhale gently begin to raise your torso back to seated and switch sides.
Standing Figure Four (Tree Pose)
Standing Figure Four (Tree Pose)
Starting in tadasana, stand firm and tall. With your balancing foot grounded into the mat or the floor, begin to raise your other foot. Stacking your heel against your ankle with toes on the floor, or place you foot against your calf, inner thigh, crossing over your thigh, or tucked into your hip crease. Never place your foot against your knee joint in this or any other posture. Find a focal point and allow yourself to absorb the beauty of this balancing pose.
Figure Four Chair
Figure Four Chair.
I feel like this might be the most commonly practiced of all the figure four poses and is probably the most challenging, but it also probably has the most variations and access to other postures. Starting in chair pose with your weight over your heels (you should be able to lift your toes off the mat without changing your posture) hip points lifting up as your tail tucks down, abs are contracting, and knees are bent. Once you find the correct posture, don't cheat yourself out of a good chair position. Take your time and breath into this strong before moving on. When you are ready, raise one foot up off the mat, keeping your hips low and cross it over the opposite leg just above the knee joint. Trying to keep both hips level and sink a little deeper into the posture. From here you can bring your hands down to the ground and you have the option to move into flying pigeon. If you are feeling particularly yogic you can also practice a figure four chair twist move into side crow.
Figure Four Seated on the Mat
Figure Four Seated on the Mat
Find a seat on the mat and place your feet on the mat in front of you, knees pointing to the ceiling. Lean back on your hands and cross one ankle over the thigh right above the knee joint on the opposite leg. Spine is long and straight. Play around with the distance your feet and hands are away from your seat.
The closer they are the deeper the stretch.
Supine Figure Four
Supine Figure Four
Lying on your back and placing your feet on the mat raise one foot up to the ceiling and cross the ankle over the opposite thigh close to the knee. Raise the supporting foot off the mat so that your shin is parallel to the ceiling. Threading you hands around your thigh gently pull your legs towards your torso. Be particularly aware of your neck in this pose. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed and your head resting gently on the mat.
Figure Four at the Wall
Figure Four at the Wall
This is probably the most restorative of all the figure four options we are looking at today. To begin you want sit with your right or left side as close to the wall as possible. Swing down into a supine position as you bring your feet up onto the wall. You want your seat close enough to the wall that your feet rest comfortable against the wall and your shins are parallel with the floor. Then cross one foot over the other thigh close to the knee of the opposite leg while keeping both sit bones connected to the mat. Your torso and arms are relaxed. You can play with this stretch by flexing your foot and lifting your heel away from the wall, perhaps coming all the way onto your tippy-toes. Hang out in this one for a bit and enjoy the great stretch with minimal effort.
Prone Figure Four (Pigeon)
Prone Figure Four (Pigeon)
Ah pigeon. How some of us love it, while others love to hate it. I will freely admit that I am in the "Love It" category. I love, love love the amazing stretch I get as I walk my hands away from my torso and lay my face into my sticky mat, ah pigeon bliss! But I also recognize the fact that this pose is not for everyone. And it can place weak knee and ankle joints at risk for injury. So in regards to pigeon pose, if you love it and know that you are practicing it safely, correctly and without pain or pressure in your knees please continue to enjoy this amazing posture. If you do not enjoy pigeon pose - especially if you do not enjoy it because it causes you knee pain - do not practice it. Even if directed to do so in a class. Instead, choose one of the other figure four stretches we have already talked about. And if you would like to explore correct posture for pigeon pose or any of the other figure four poses, or any other yoga pose ever invented AND the modifications that are available to access it, contact me for a private lesson.
(shameless plug here : I give private lessons)
I hope I have been able to give you something valuable and worth taking back to your mat. Namaste!
I was in a restorative frame of mind on Sunday and started thinking about some simple restorative poses that a practitioner could do at home or on the go that would restore the spirit, feel wonderful in the body and use minimal propping. Two poses came right to mind. Legs on a chair and legs up the wall. Both poses are great for relaxation, stress release and relieving muscle tension in the pelvis, low back, hip flexors, and hamstrings. All you need is a chair, a couple of towels or thin blankets and a pillow. Throw in a weighted eye pad and some soft music and you have all the makings for complete relaxation.
I hope you enjoy the video and give one of these wonderful poses a try soon.
~Positive Lifestyle Practices through Yoga ~