The eye of the storm.

Having lived in Florida for many years, I had the opportunity to experience the eye of the storm for myself.  You can just imagine the pounding of the wind and rain as only a hurricane can produce, abruptly stopping for a brief period of sunshine and calm, only to be followed by an even fiercer onslaught of wind and rain.  An amazing experience I will never forget.  That feeling of being so insignificant in the midst of the awesome power of mother nature.

I’m beginning to notice that same feeling of being in the eye of the storm as the world swirls uncontrollably around me.  So much unrest and emotional turmoil on the planet at this time.  Floods, fires, earthquakes. Famine, fear, dis-ease. Many of my contemporaries are experiencing major health issues in addition to the pain of losing one or both parents.  Our faithful animal companions are taking on our grief and sadness, only to fall victim to a host of human-like maladies.

How do we find balance in the seemingly chaotic world we live in? How do we see through the cloak of fear that envelops the world in uncertainty?   Perhaps begin by taking a moment to be thankful for what you have.  You have the gift of life.  The chance to breath in all that life has to offer.  Life happens, but it’s how you respond to all the challenges that creates your reality.  Take a moment right now to stop, take a deep breath and simply be present.  Let go of all the regrets from the past and all the fears for the future.  Simply be present with your breath.  Your heart rate will slow down, your blood pressure will drop, your mind will quiet—giving you the courage to take the next mindful step along your path in this lifetime.  There is always the calm after the storm.  It’s how you weather the storm that matters.

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A moment in time.

The sun sparkling like diamonds on the water.

The breeze blowing through your hair,

the warmth of the sun on your skin.

The sound of the seagulls in the distance,

sandpipers chasing the tide in and out.

The sand between your toes,

the water splashing on your legs.

A moment in time.

No evidence of the past, gone are your footprints

being swept away with each receding wave.

Looking ahead, only countless possibilities.

So many choices.  What to do?

For this moment, just be.

Listen to the sound of the waves breaking along the shore,

taste the salt on your lips.

Hear the sound of the seagulls in the distance…..

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The Yogic Path.

The Yogic Path

The yogic path has been a true journey of self-discovery for me.  I never envisioned myself as a yogini, as I haven’t yet mastered the art of balancing on one arm… or two arms, for that matter.  But I do write the word ‘yet,’ as I continue to ‘show up’ to explore the possibility of building my core strength to master those poses.  But I have to ask myself as I continue to judge my attempts, doesn’t having attachment to the perfect pose create ‘suffering?’  As I have completed my 200 hr yoga training, I’ve come to realize it’s not all about mastering the more advanced poses.  It’s about the acceptance of where you are, right now, in this instance.  It’s about cultivating ‘ahimsa,’ non-harming to yourself and others. And I really think that it’s about opening up to the possibility of what is available at any moment.  Sometimes I feel more flexible in my mind and that translates to more flexibility in my body.  Without expectation, the body relaxes and opens to greater possibilities.   Pushing or forcing creates resistance,  leading to injury, pain and suffering on many levels of our being.

And as I am currently completing the 500 hr yoga training, I’m even more aware of how easy it is to injure yourself during moments of seeking perfection in our asana practice.  It’s one thing to study theory, but it’s another story to embody the nuances of each posture.  As a teacher,  you can only teach what you truly know and when do you know that you know it???  There are those magical moments of tapping into a deeper wisdom that remind you there is a source greater than yourself and you simply need to trust.  Trust the process of sharing what is needed in that moment in time.  Even if you think it’s trivial, trust it could be the guidance someone else is seeking.   Yoga is all about finding your center, finding your balance, finding what’s right for you in this moment.  It’s about ‘showing up’ and being willing to explore the parts of yourself that need exploration.  And oh, that’s an endless journey in itself, but one that’s worth the effort.  Are you willing to ‘show up’ for your journey of self-discovery?

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Just being.

How often do you have the luxury of just being?  No phones, no  emails, no traffic, no nothing for an hour or so.  A chance to let go of all the distractions of life.  A chance to let the mind rest, the breath to deepen, your muscles to soften and relax.  A guided visualization to take you away from the daily routine.  Soft music to soothe the soul.   A chance to sink down into that stillness of being to experience a deep peace and serenity.  Ah, where is this oasis?

It doesn’t have to be a retreat to a secluded location.  You can find that deep peace through the practice of Restorative Yoga.  Yes, I know ‘practice’ conjures up the picture of ‘doing’ something.  However, in this case, the ‘doing’ requires positioning your body comfortably on props such as bolsters, blocks and blankets.  You may enjoy an eye pillow to divert your gaze inward and quiet the mind.  Perhaps a spritz of lavender oil to soothe the senses.  

Numerous benefits are attributed to the practice of restorative yoga:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure
  • Encourages healthy patterns of breathing
  • Moves the spine in all directions to increase flexibility
  • Helps during recovery from illness or injury
  • Stretches muscles, fascia and connective tissue to facilitate a full range of movement
  • Reverses the effects of gravity with inverted poses, which change the flow of blood and fluids
  • Conserves energy, redirecting it to restore, replenish and rejuvenate the body
  • Quiets the mind, increasing a sense of peace and well-being

Find a yoga studio near you that offers Restorative Yoga and take the art of  ‘just being’ to a new level. 

Join Kathy at Yoga is Youthfulness, located on Castro Street in Mountain View.  Visit www.yogaisyouth.com for more class schedules and directions to the studio. 

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Spring cleaning.

It’s that time of year again.  The time to spring clean your life—clear the clutter, shed the excess weight and let go of old limiting beliefs.  How do we collect so much over the winter months?  

I sat in the question and made the decision to begin the process of removing the excess in my life.  Ok, where to start?  The closet?  Sure, I can lose those extra pounds and maybe fit into those cute skirts I wore five years ago……or maybe not.  I’m not sure if I’m in that space anymore.  Ok, out with the skirts and short tops and trendy ‘stuff’…let’s see, what’s left to wear?  You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new,  right?

In anticipation of the pending wardrobe update, I decided it was time for a 7-day cleanse.  How do you prepare yourself for a cleanse?  It’s more of a mental preparation than a physical preparation.  Yes, you can begin to change your eating habits a week or so ahead of the cleanse, but you also have to change your thoughts regarding food.  Looking consciously at your food choices, notice where you resist the very thought of ‘giving it up’ for 7 days.  It’s only one week of modifying your diet–ok, giving up the afternoon coffee and pastries, the pancakes on Sunday or the late night snacks.  How hard could that be?  A little difficult if you continue to co-exist with friends or family who put that chocolate cookie under your nose.

So I decided to engage the yogic practice of Svadyaya, or self-inquiry, to uncover the truth of who I am–and in this case, who I am in relationship with food.  Yes, food is nourishment for the body, but it’s also feeds the soul.   Think about all the ways we engage with food.  We are a society of rituals–we celebrate birthdays, holidays, life transitions–everything with food.  We feed our emotions with food–food for depression, food for happiness, food for success, food for failure–I was already planning my first solid meal post- cleanse. 

So my next question was, why bother to do a cleanse at all if I’m already planning my exit strategy?  It occurred to me that I had a choice to just continue down the path of eating myself to an early death or changing my life for the better.  I can choose foods with a higher vibration–living foods with a higher life force energy–that will support my being on every level.   Processed foods are dead foods that have very little life force energy to sustain the living tissue in the body.   So I went to the market and stocked up on a variety of vegetables and fruits.  My energy level increased just in the preparation of the cleanse.  Imagine that?  Spring is the time for new beginnings, a time for renewal and rejuvenation.  Set an intention to give yourself the greatest gift of all–the gift of health.  Without your health, what do you really have?

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silverMohandas Gandhi

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Raindrops.

Raindrops on the window pane,

pollen washing down the drainpipe.

Relief for another day.  My eyes are fully open.

Today is perfect, not a thing to do,

no need to rush anywhere. 

Just being here, listening to the sound of the raindrops.

Breathing in, breathing out.

Peace.  Quiet.

Pure bliss.

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Spring is in the air.

 Spring is truly magical. 

A time for growth and renewal. Life springs forth, filling the senses with color, with fragrance, with all the hopes and dreams that have remained dormant during the cold winter months.  The gray of winter is interrupted by a splash of color.  Even the simple white blossoms capture the gaze.  I’m mesmerized by the view from my window.  I awaken each morning filled with anticipation–what will my window reveal today?  Has anything changed overnight?  My eyes search for just a hint of growth–have I missed a new blossom during the dark hours of sleep?

It’s magic, I know it.  Don’t you feel it?  A sense of excitement is born with the spring.  So many possibilities.  Spring renewal.  Every year we have the opportunity to renew our lives.  What would you like to change in your life?   A change of scenery, a change of attitude, or perhaps a change of pace.  Ah, the possibilities are endless.  Why not take a moment to stop, close your eyes, take a deep breath and begin to listen to  the sounds of spring–what do you hear?  Perhaps the whisper of the breeze as it stirs the blossoms on the trees.  Or the songbirds as they proclaim the arrival of warmer days to come .  Ah, could this be the year?  What would it take to be fully present in your life and be open to experience all that life has to offer?  Don’t wait too long–the seasons come and the seasons go–and before you can open your eyes, where did all the blossoms go?

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