Tag Archives: practice makes perfect

Resilience and Adaptabilty

Resilience and adaptability are an intrinsic part of nature. Weeds survive, cockroaches will inherit the earth, and water will always find its way. Unfortunately, the possibility that one can become stuck in a rut of being, obdurate and unable to be fluid like water, is as great a potential as falling in love. 

Nevertheless, life invites us to be flexible. Too much fragility and we will crumble under life’s pressure. Too much rigidity and we will stubbornly refuse to adapt with changing times. Get left behind, looking out at an unfamiliar world from an inner gaze hardened by our own stubborn shortcomings.

So much of this journey of life is a dance among paradox. Dancing between stability and freedom is the dance of liberation. Freeing ourselves from our attachments to the past and desired outcomes, yet holding the gaze steady on the intent and the motive is the recipe for a vibrant life. Despite the length of that sentence, the concept is still much easier said than done.

None of us are outside the circle of loss. None of us are exempt from desire. None of us are without needs. Life, being what it is, will test our capacity to meet ourselves in the company of ourselves, during loss, overcome by desire, with needs unmet. What we do when we arrive at thes thresholds is what becomes the fluid and flexible bouncy of resilience or hard brittle bark of unfluctuating obstinacy. The most beautiful part is that we get to decide. We get to decide how to respond to life’s undulations.

The key ingredient is knowing that responding is not reacting. Life happens. Take a breath. Connect to the deeper part of you. The part that evolved with the ever evolving universe, conscious, adaptable, resilient, and remember what drives your heart. Take another deep breath, move away from the drama, exhale. Take another deep breath, choose the direction you wish to go, take one small step in that direction. Responding mindfully to life’s unsavory as well as life’s more rich and delicious circumstances is like becoming the resilient and ever buoyant material of a trampoline. Not only do you bounce back but you catalyze movement into the future.

Regularly returning to practice returns you to your capacity to connect to your breath. Regularly returning to your practice invites deeper connection to your adaptable and graceful heart. Regularly returning to your practice reminds you of your ability to skillfully spin, twirl, and jive on the paradoxical dance floor of life. Stepping gracefully between stability and freedom, acknowledging your innate ability to be simultaneously fragile and rigid, embracing your innate ability to be resilient and adaptable, will bring you ever closer to the vibrant freedom of peace you were born to enjoy. Carry on!

With Love, always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve 

The End, Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge, Class 21 Completed

Once upon a time I was working at World Cup on the corner of Taos Plaza and a new woman was hired, her name was Suki.  She was new to town and I had recently crossed paths with her at the Alley Cantina where she I watched her dance freely like no one was watching in the middle of an empty dance floor.  I could not take my eyes off of her, spellbound by her willingness to be so free despite having all eyes in the room on her, like my own.  The day she began working at the Cup I had been deemed the person with all of the information to fill her head in order to teach her to be the best Barista she could be.  It was July 2005, at the time I had a boyfriend who lived in Seco the day before her training my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Seco 4th of July parade, and that night I got a spider bite on my ankle.  I recall noticing the spider bite after it happened and not thinking to much of it, however by the next morning it had started to swell, and by the time Suki and I showed up at the World Cup for the afternoon training shift it was the size of a tennis ball.  During the course of our six plus hours my right ankle swelled to the size of a football and Suki insisted on mopping the floor, which in my training routine was something I generally kept until the next closing shift, however this time I could not refuse.  Being stubborn and not quick to visit a doctor when in illness I was telling her that I would probably just go home and rest after we were finished.  Suki, being the sensitive, aware, and intelligent woman she is, suggested I go to the emergency room.  We investigated the bite again and noted that it was starting to look like a volcano with big blue streaks coming down from it.  Looking at this grotesque image I knew it was time to go to the hospital.  That afternoon was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship of teaching, and learning from each other.

Suki came to Taos to do a Yoga Teacher Training in Santa Fe, and being an avid skier she intelligently informed herself that Taos Ski Valley would fit her fancy far more than Santa Fe’s terrain.  It had been eight years since I was ejected through a windshield, suffered a severe break to my lower back, and taught myself to walk again.  Over the course of those many years yoga had been suggested to me, but as I said in my previous story I am stubborn, and I hadn’t gotten around to exploring what yoga was all about by the time Suki arrived.  Just like the night at the Alley when she was dancing, over the course of the next few months working with her I noticed Suki was so very vibrant in all she did, her sense of self was strong and secure and she shined like her pearly white teeth behind her wide and friendly smile.  It’s another story, perhaps a book of it’s own, to describe how I felt at that time in my life and why I felt that way however, I was not feeling so shiny, and I wanted to know how to feel the way Suki felt.  One thing she was doing and had done for most of her life was yoga, and now she was beginning to teach.  She invited me to attend her class, I just couldn’t say no.   No matter how insecure I was, how afraid I was of not knowing what I was doing, how stubborn I was about my limitations related to my back, I just had to go.  Something about Suki’s bright smile and the tenderness with which she treated me from that day with the spider bite said to my fear, “don’t worry, you will be safe.”

I remember that first yoga class, it was in January of 2006.  I remember my first down dog, it felt agonizing as my arms shook, then Suki made the invitation to express the posture from the feeling of our hearts.  My heart softened immediately remembering it’s desire to be happy, and knowing the space I was in was safe.

Everyone comes to yoga for their own, unique, and personal reasons.  Everyone has their own intentions, motives, and desires of what they wish to get out of the practice.  Though eight years have now passed I think back and it is apparent to me my motives are still the same.  I wish to be happy and peace-filled while traversing this wild and crazy ride called life.  I wish to experience this happiness true to myself, in the fullness of my authentic expression without hesitation or fear of who may be watching.   I know that at the heart of sharing this experience of my Spring Yoga Challenge through this blog is this truth of my desire to be courageous while standing bare and vulnerable for the world to see.  Along my journey of the past eight years deeply devoted to this practice I have developed all of the skills I use to stand vulnerably as my authentic self with courage most deeply through this beautiful and continuing relationship with my dear teacher, friend, and student Suki. In this truth so much gratitude fills my heart and the joy of this gratitude  brings tears to my eyes.

After awaking this morning from dreams that were no where near as delightful as I would have called sweet, I awoke feeling a bit more ill than I would have liked.  Stuffy nose and slightly feverish I spent the morning quietly, took a walk with my dog, enjoyed fresh air and decided that it was the time to finish this journey I set myself upon.  If I had not challenged myself to complete the task by the 30th of April I would not have gone to class today, however, stubborn old me made my way over to Shree at noon to see my dear beloved teacher.

Suki guided us through beautiful asana of deep hip flexing and twists to sooth our nervous system and help us to drop more deeply into the quiet calm fibers of our being in order to bring us ease in the wild and voracious wind of the past couple days.  I silently acknowledged to myself that I had not felt to shaken by the wind and appreciated this inner calm was a sweet benefit of all of this yoga I have been doing.  Suki remarked on the quality of the wind being like the quality of our mind often blowing, sometimes blustering, and providing the potential to create a constant sense of unease.  The ultimate teaching she offered her students this afternoon is that yoga’s purpose is to quiet the mind stuff, to calm the winds of blustering thoughts so we may enjoy the ever present well of inner peace.  As always, I found myself returning from Savasana with the winged expression of joy, gratitude, and love for this magnificent teacher rising from the well of peace in my heart.

Being an owner of Shree Yoga limits the possibility of being rewarded in the most fabulous ways our students are rewarded materially by use for completing classes 7, 14, and 21 of the Spring Yoga Challenge.  Yet, the rewards of practicing regularly are not restricted from my experience and I have experienced many.  Through the calm diving into the well of my grieving heart, to the equanimity experienced in the ease I feel when the wind blows wild outside, and all the other resonances of my energetic and physical body and tastes of riches in my free spirit and open heart between, I have been rewarded.

Almost a decade ago this powerful relationship of friendship and studentship began, it has in itself multiplied into many aspects of my life and ever continues to bring me more joy.  I do not know if Suki knew I would be attending her class today, however, she brought me a gift, an edible treat of powerful super-foods we discovered on our journey to Maui together a few years ago, Happy Balls.  After class I delightfully devoured my happy ball and began to sing from the truest joy in my heart…If you are not familiar with Pharrell William’s new song Happy consider this your introduction…

“Clap your hands, if you feel like a room without a roof.  Clap your hands if you feel like happiness on the move…Because I’m happy happy happy happy…happy happy happy happy!”  You can check out his uber inspiring and creative video here.  http://24hoursofhappy.com/

Once upon a time I was bit by a spider feeling as grey as a cloudy day.  A wonderful yogi of luster and long fibers guided me out of the gloom and along my way.  Now I’m at home and though I’m alone I’m as happy as I could be.  Knowing inside me is all I will ever need to be willing, courageous, and free.

If you have been keeping up with me along this journey I thank you for sharing it with me.  It is my deep belief that the more we share of our experiences the narrower we bring the gap of separation between us and feeling alone in our suffering, or as I like to call it, being human.

There is still one more day to dive in and get your feet wet on your own magical Spring Yoga Challenge.  Yes it will be difficult in more ways than one.  Yes it will require commitment and tenacity.  Yes it will deepen the quality of joy in your life in all of it’s rewards.  Stop by Shree for tonight’s 5:30 class or tomorrow’s, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, Noon and 5:30pm classes to begin.

That is all for now, and this marks The End….of this story at least.

With love, all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve

 

Just One More, Class 20

In the old days class twenty would have marked the moment of crossing the finish line of the Spring or Autumn Yoga Challenge at Shree Yoga Taos.  However in 2014, we decided twenty wasn’t enough and twenty-one would be an appropriate upping of the ante for those like me who fervently take the plunge regularly.  In the old days I would have experienced an elated delight toward the end of class, just like the experience I had this evening when my body made an inner exclamation of and undying love of yoga and being in my body.  Unlike challenges past, as I finished class this evening there would not have been just one more class looming in the distance.

Many times in my life I have been asked, “What is it you love about yoga, what brings you back to the mat?”  My answer to the question has always been true and despite the many years that have gone by it continues to be the same.  “There is always more room”,  I answer with confidence and ease.  The longer I practice the more often I experience more room in my body even if it is limited in its movement.  I experience more room in the energetic body followed by more room in the relaxed quality of my muscles.  No matter the spaciousness or limitations of my physical body I find there is always more room in my mind after I practice, less judgement, less criticism, less running around in circles on the same thought, any thought, be it expansive or limiting, dissipates like vapors off a hot cup of tea.  Mostly however, the thing I find most appealing is that there is always more room in my heart to love and be loved, to experience joy no matter my physical surroundings, freedoms, or limitations.  This spaciousness in my heart translates directly to my spirit which always feels after a yoga practice unlimited in its expansion, unlimited in its knowing, unlimited in awareness of time and space, unlimited in it’s eternal presence and connection with the eternal heart of all hearts.  Even if my awareness of this radical unlimited spaciousness of my spirit is only for just a tenth of a second, I have the great joy of experiencing it every time I come to my mat.

When I was doing my yoga teacher training my teacher Bea Doyle so brilliantly said, “It does not matter what type of yoga you practice, it is ultimately a spiritual practice.  A student may say that’s not for me and align them self to a rigorous physical practice with a teacher who never touches on the spiritual aspect of the yoga.  However, it is inevitable they will find themselves asking “does this serve me?”, and no matter the answer, the question itself is spiritually based.”  Bea calls this “the back door approach.”  Bea is a remarkable teacher who has a subtle way of including the spiritual qualities of the practice without ever sounding dogmatic or off putting.  Perhaps that is because she was a math teacher for twenty years?  I feel so fortunate to honor her as my teacher and I often hear her wise and intelligent voice in my head, as well as in other teachers at Shree who have also studied with her.  Like Bea, I do my best to bring the spiritual aspects to the classes I teach, however I know I am not as subtle about it as she is, being that subtle wouldn’t suit me as it would not be authentic.  Authenticity is another valuable teaching I learned in her spacious and beautiful studio Bhava Yoga on Central in Albuquerque, authenticity, spirituality, asana, spaciousness, how to string instructions together, and so much more.

Now it’s been five years since I finished that teacher training, five years since Shree opened it’s doors, five years of regular teaching which amounts to thousands of hours, maybe seven yoga challenges including autumn and spring, and countless hours of time on my mat at home, in class, and elsewhere.  Tonight as I was rising into locust pose (Salabasana), a pose that for all these years of practice has not only alluded me, but also brought that discomforted “why am I doing this?” question to mind, I felt surprisingly and amazingly good.  “Ah, I love yoga!” exclaimed my body as we repeated the pose and an old mystery became clear.  “Ah, I love that there is always more room.”  I reminded myself to mark that moment as an important one on my path of always learning, and like the invitations of my teacher suggested, I moved on.

This evening I attended Liz’s 5:30-7:00 pm class knowing it would be subbed by Doug Gilnet.  In this challenge I have made a concerted effort to get to all the wonderful teachers at Shree’s classes.  With the exception of Kelly who is out of town, I have been successful.  Class was a perfectly paced slow flow of back bends and forward bends.  With my new awareness of the high point of my hip, and the ever changing strength and flexibility of my muscles through this winding yoga journey I felt really really great through tonight’s entire practice.  Music is my favorite drug and in my world always makes life more delightful, for his class Doug offered his students a really gentle mix of beautiful music to support our time on the mat.  Traditionally yoga was taught by men, I find the quality of a mans voice while teaching yoga to be inspiring, steadfast, secure, and supportive, and Doug’s voice fits this description.  Doug generally teaches at Shree on Monday afternoon’s from 3:30-5:00 pm, he also heads the yoga program at Ojo Caliente, where he can be found Tuesday through Friday should you desire to take yourself on a really nice personal yoga and soak retreat.  However you find your way I highly recommend attending Doug’s class, I am confident you will leave like everyone left class tonight, calm with a peaceful serenity across your face.

Now, as darkness begins to blanket this magical town I so fortunately call home and I contemplate the solar eclipse taking place with tonight’s full moon, thinking this must be the dark side of the moon Pink Floyd spoke of, I restfully reside in my inner light, ever-growing like the expanding universe and the spaciousness of my heart.

One more to go, yet so many more to come.

When a new galaxy comes into creation do you think perhaps the conscious intelligence that breaths us all ever states “just one more”?  Who knows?  I know, I don’t know the answer to that question, yet the universe continues to expand, as does my heart.

With love from my big spacious heart,  and the ever expanding curiosity of my spirit and mind, good night, sweet dreams, in joy,

Genevieve

Nearer to the End, Class 18

There are so many things that I love about yoga it would be impossible for me to pick just one and call it my favorite.  Every time I return to my mat more things of joy are revealed by my practice.  Even if I am experiencing discomfort or agitation the overall experience returns me to joy or even better, peace.  I am a positive person, an optimist, and I am practiced at looking for the good, this does not mean I am always experiencing the more uplifting qualities of being, I am human after all.

As I journey through this Spring Yoga Challenge and reveal my experience through this blog I am making a concerted effort to share the highlights and the good stuff.  However, being human, having a body that has been through deep injury, and a critical mind, I also find myself along the way in contracted states of unrest, discomfort, and judgement.  Not that I have just returned home from a class that I did not  enjoy, as a mater of fact I have enjoyed all of my classes on this journey so far, which I continue to mark as a testament to the excellence of teachings being offered at Shree.  This is not a post about discontent, rather as I was walking home from class and thinking of what I wanted to share tonight it occurred to me that I wanted to speak on one of the most valuable things about this practice in my life, perhaps the thing that I might pick as a favorite if I had to.

For me taking a yoga class is like living life.  You show up, you have ideas of what you might experience, you are lead on an adventure that you haven’t much control of, and all you can do is respond. Even if you are a person who does the same practice every day, the body is constantly changing, what once was will eventually become different, sometimes better sometimes the other way.  All you have on the mat is what you bring with you, the quality of your intention, attitude and willingness, the power of your courage and your strength, the steadfast hold of your mindfulness and the awareness of how you feel and how you respond to that.  In the end, often in Savasana (corpse pose) the experience is what you make of it.  Fortunately in yoga you get to walk away from the experience, and like in life, you leave with the quality of being you allowed in your mind and heart.  Needless to say, along the way you may traverse tricky footing, challenging poses, shortness of breath and fear, or the words of your teacher that push your eject button, yet what you do with the cumulative experience is up to you.   I believe that a common trapping for a devoted student of yoga is the “way I like it” philosophy, and if the teacher or the class does not fit into that philosophy then class becomes an experience of forced getting through.  As I see it, the opportunity to gain is always there, and often times the experiences we perceive as those we have enjoyed the least are our greatest teachers.   I have come to learn the more experience I have, the more opportunity I have to bring with me to the mat what I know will support my ability to leave happy no matter what the teacher is offering, and this in my mind is a direct reflection of this wild journey we call life.  Experience teaches us, be it good or bad, easy or hard, happy or sorrowful, it teaches us who we are, what we want, what we are made of, and most of all what thoughts and self expressions bring us happiness, joy, and peace.

For myself the experience of being in my body brings me great joy.  The experience of generously loving with an open and courageous heart brings me even greater joy.  The ability to let go of the thoughts that drag down the joy and love in my body and heart brings me peace.

Tonight I truly enjoyed Ashleigh’s Slow Jams class from 5:30 -7:00 pm. Class was a sweet journey through movement and standing poses and into even more divine restorative postures that comforted my body deeply.  Though the style of yoga Ashleigh and I teach are different, I always find myself happy I attended her class.  Ashleigh closed class with an invitation to us all to bow our heads to all of our teachers, I bowed to her and the lineage of yoga teachers that hold us all, with a full and reverent heart.

Again I wish to say as I near the end of my Spring Challenge all of the teachers at Shree are fantastic and have wonderful offerings for all levels and types of students.  I am not the only person who thinks this as Shree has won first place in the Taos New’s Best of Taos 2014.  I offer gratitude to all of our teachers and students for such a beautiful honor.

Humbled, Grateful, In Joy, and Truest Love,

Genevieve

 

 

Reaching The Mountain Top, Class 17

Living in Taos most of my life has taught me many things including being in rhythm with the seasons of nature.  All four seasons happen in this high mountain desert climate allowing the awareness of that rhythm to be more clear than if I were to have grown up closer to the equator or the poles.  Currently it is April, windy season,or as I like to call the sporadic change of weather at this time of year as schizophrenic spring weather.  In the morning the skies are blue and clear, in the afternoon perhaps snow, by dusk rolling clouds and a light breeze.  Growing up in Taos I knew that March meant sunscreen and layers, May meant lilacs, presuming we didn’t get a late freeze, July meant possible flash floods at my friends house on the mesa, and Halloween meant long sleeves, jackets with our costumes and snow.

Summer weather in Taos is generally more consistent than spring, it’s either dry or wet, drought or monsoon.  Of course we pray for monsoons in the desert yet, if you are like me and you enjoy hiking, monsoon weather does not only put a dampness in the dirt but may also put a damper on your hiking schedule.  For instance if you wish to hike Mt. Wheeler it is advisable to leave early in the morning, six or so, so that you do not get caught on the way up the mountain in a thunder storm.  If you are like me, often times living beyond what is “advisable”  than you may find yourself as I have, on your way up the mountain watching the ominous clouds rolling in.  Ambition to get to the top to enjoy the beyond amazing feeling and view may impede your opportunity to experience the hike with a sense of pleasure sending yourself full blown into the unease of stress.   Being driven you may continue upward despite the warning of crackling thunder and drops of rain.  Perhaps, you pause in a moment of conscientious mindfulness, reflecting on the circumstance, attending to the rewards of your yoga practice, and in this awareness it becomes apparent that surrendering the desire to summit may not only prevent you from being struck by lighting above the tree line but it may also leave your spirit with more room for the fullest form of your inner expression of joy, which in effect is the reason to hike the mountain in the first place.Hiking a mountain in Taos during the monsoons is not too different from taking the Spring Yoga Challenge or any yoga class for that matter.

Today at noon I attended Suki’s Yoga Hour class, after a morning of working in the yard, and now three weeks of yoga challenge my body is admittedly tired.  To tell the truth I would have preferred to attend Gentle/Restorative Yoga this evening however I am teaching that class for Liz as she is in South America and well, that makes it almost impossible for me to also attend.  After so many years of being in this fantastic, feeling, healing body, I know it’s limits.  Sometimes I can push the boundaries and summit the mountain before the storm rolls in, rock the three and a half hour advanced yoga practice and smile all the way through, do eight hours of yoga two days in a row for the sake of learning more, and other times I just want to take a hot bath and get in bed.   This afternoon I had very little tenacity and vigor in me.  However, as the days roll by I now have only a few short days to complete this challenge I took on for myself.  I made my way to class knowing that in class instructions are an invitation as on a hike making it to the summit is not a necessary ingredient in the recipe of enjoying the great outdoors.  All that was really required of me today was to just show up.

Suki’s class was an invitation to find the place between excited and stressed out, how very appropriate I thought to myself.  She taught us a sequence of poses that built on one another leading to bigger and bigger poses incorporating twists and weight bearing, all of which required our physical effort.  Most asana requires effort and in that is the invitation to balance the effort, as yoga is a practice of balancing, with a softness in the effort, softness under the tone of the muscle, softness in the breath and mind, softness in the heart and spirit.  To carry the rhythm of our asana was a delightful breath practice specific to the softening of the quality of mind as well as the energy body beneath the effort of the physical form.  It was a wonderful and masterful practice, and minding my own needs I also managed to take good care of myself modifying where necessary, listening to the thunder in my body, in order for myself to leave happy and not hurt.

From my perspective leaving happy is ultimately the point.  Why stress oneself out in the pursuit of more joy and excitement?  Why stress oneself out on the journey of reaching the summit?  Why stress oneself out in the short years of our one and only miraculous life?  As far as I can see, I see no good reasons to do live in stress.  On my journey of life I continue to learn, up and down mountains, through joy and greif and all stages between, through this Spring Yoga Challenge, the gift comes in being present in the moment.  Showing up and being aware of your experience and how you feel, and if you don’t like how you feel choose to do somehting that will allow you to feel somehting you prefer, perhaps that is better, perhaps it’s just more peaceful or comfortable.  Feeling, being present with the feeling of the feeling, and knowing you can choose your mental response to that feeling as good as standing on the tallest mountain in the world.  I have learned that in the awarenss is great spaciousness and an opportunity to see the easiest route back home, literally, figuartively, metaphysically, esoterically, and intrinscly.

Now at home I sit calmly and happily without to much physical effort at my computer exercising another feature of my being tired from this self imposed challenge, my mental muscles and I share with you these many thoughts knowing I am approaching the end.  As I begin to see the descent off the mountain top of the Spring Yoga Challenge I am aware that rather than stress myself out about getting home it will better serve me to continue to do my best to be present with every step along the way, every breath, every down dog, every moment of frustration and delight, present in the yoga on and off the mat.  It’s like Suki said at the end of class “Thank you for showing up.”  Yep, showing up is enough.

With love, all ways in joy, for giving,

Genevieve

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge Day 14, Class 11

This evening I enjoyed a rare event, yoga with my loving husband.  I spent the day with my mother and was surprised when I walked into Shree at 5:30 pm for Suki’s Gentle/Restorative Yoga class to find my good looking husband sitting on the bench inside the front door taking off his shoes.  Though I regularly invite him to join me for class, as well as encourage him to do more yoga, he does not often go take me up on my offer.  One thing I really love about our relationship is that we are interested in different things and our singular approaches to life including the tasks of taking care of ourselves are not the same.  It is because of these differences that over the past eight years we have had a very good time enjoying each others company adventuring into the others world.  This said, my husband is not as enthusiastic about yoga as I am and has shared with me this truth many times, that it is not uncommon for him to spend the majority of time in a yoga class working out the thoughts in his head, i.e. thoughts that he might enjoy himself more should he be elsewhere.  Despite this, Mr. Oswald, like almost all other people I know, no matter the experience on the mat, feels better for it afterwards, and this is why he continues to come to class, all be it sporadically.

In class tonight Suki invited us to relax and prepare for sleep after the big full moon and eclipse of last night, tax day, passover, and the Ides of April.  I almost always find Gentle/Restorative yoga to be a perfect platform for the practice of relaxing, surrendering, and letting go, and often enjoy a deep savasana at the end of class.  Tonight was slightly different from such previous experiences as I found myself surprised to notice everyone was moving at the end of class and I had not heard Suki call us out of savasana, I had fallen asleep.  This to me is a sign of a job well done on the mat, and perhaps also a sign that tonight I am tired.

Now after my surprise yoga date with my husband and a delicious dinner I will off to bed to enjoy the sleep I prepared so well for in class.  If all goes well I will wake up tomorrow to meet an exciting new day full of wonder, magic, and everything new, including another effort to rise to the challenge at Shree Yoga Taos.

Wishing you sweet dreams and lots of love,

Genevieve

 

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge Day 11, Class 9

After a wonderfully fun, yet long weekend of auntie time with my ten and seven year old nieces it was very hard for me to get to class this evening, not to mention my still tired and sore muscles.   However, in the wind and grey of the day I walked myself the very short distance between my home and Shree for a most wonderful class that I am so happy I mustered up the chutzpah to attend.  This is one of the things about yoga I come to learn repeatedly over and over, especially when I do a challenge; if I don’t feel like going I probably really need it, and it will benefit me more than if I were chomping at the bit to get myself on the mat.

Tonight Liz opened her class with a simple and sweet statement, that she is thinking of her students all the time.  A teacher myself, I resonated with her sentiment as I too think of my students all the time, and am constantly absorbing inspiration in order to offer inspired teachings.  Liz than offered another truth of teaching yoga, that she just wasn’t feeling so inspired today, and that the inspiration for her class came from an article on teaching yoga that requested the teachers stop teaching and share their personal experience.

Sharing her own experience is exactly what Liz did as she taught a sequence of poses that she enjoys doing, which surprisingly for me began with a short warm up and went straight to handstand.  If you have been following me on this journey than you are informed of my current physical reality, and the recovering I have been doing in my body after falling down stairs last June.  This said, doing handstands is not so much in my repertoire these past months, to which I will add the addendum of sad because I love standing on my hands.  Tonight however, I choose not to hesitate, I courageously went for it, and my body responded even more surprisingly with kindness.

Though Liz opened class by sharing that she was not feeling so very inspired today, as a student in her class this evening, my personal experience was enhanced and inspired by the honesty of her sharing.  For me, this is one of the most beautiful qualities of what I consider a “good” yoga teacher, as well as one of the highlights of the human experience, when we share our more shadowy, resistant, guilt ridden and even shameful experiences, when we share our sufferings and our pains, our lack of inspiration, our humanity, we remind one-another that we are all journeyers on the path of learning, with an opportunity to revel in the perfection and lessons of our imperfections.  As I write this, I think perhaps tonight’s class was the most inspired of Liz’s classes I have ever attended, though all of Liz’s classes touch my heart, this one echos in my spirit, and to top it all off, after class my body continues to feel better than it has in months!  I shared this glorious liberation of freedom from pain in my body with Liz and a couple of my yoga friends, and one of them asked “Why do you think that is?”  My answer, “perhaps all the yoga I have been doing, perhaps all the good acupuncture, massage, and energy work I have been getting, but most likely, the work I have been doing between my ears.”  Now is my opportunity to share, though this year has been about healing my body the more challenging work I have been doing has been in my mind, repairing and transforming my thoughts and my perspective of myself.  Truthfully no matter how much yoga we do, or how much we smile, I don’t think anyone always feels inspired, or great, or on top of the world, myself included.  It’s human nature to fall apart, break down, and sludge through the muck of our lives from time to time.  It is in the hard times that we are given great opportunity to expand out of the contraction of our limited perspectives, our attachments to our old ways of being that bog us down in suffering, our fear of changing and our fear of what lays ahead in the unknown.  Every day is a wonderful day to transform, to share our stories, to listen and to learn. Everyday is a wonderful day to love ourselves as we are, and find gratitude in the opportunity to be with the teachings, the good and the hard, to see the light that brings us out of darkness, out of our ignorance, to call out the elephant in the room, to attempt to stand on our hands and take a whole new view of the world.

Ultimately in the end, the biggest teaching of tonight’s class was the reminder that every moment, every person, and every thing we encounter in our unique personal experiences of life is a potential teacher, and our blessed gift to share.  This is the Guru Tattva, the teaching of the Guru, that which brings light to the darkness, and in this bright and glorious light Liz closed our magical and powerful class with a beautiful chant, a sweet reminder,  “Om Namah Gurudev”, Salutations to the Great Teacher, the Auspicious one, Always Present.

Thank you Liz.

With love, always in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve

 

 

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge Day 9, Class 8

As the days roll by getting myself to yoga inevitably gets harder.  Ask anyone who participates in the Spring Yoga Challenge and they will probably agree that scheduling 21 yoga classes into 30 days is hard no matter what physical shape you may be in.   Life is happening all the time and in our personal schedules are the things that require our attention outside of the work we are doing underneath our skin.  In this light I knew that if I did not make it to class this morning with Bonnie, I would not be able to make it to any class for the next three days, and loosing three days of yoga could be such a loss of momentum that though small, may break my ability to complete the challenge all together.  This I know from experience, as the days go by getting to class gets harder.

Commitment is the intention to follow through, and I have committed to the Spring Yoga Challenge, therefore I got myself out of bed and in the crisp air of the morning made it to Shree a minute late for class.  Personally I do not like to be late for anything, and there is an element of not showing up with our best foot forward in being late for class, but like I tell my students, it’s better to show up late, than not show up at all…for class and for ourselves.   Bonnie was kind in her welcome to my tardiness and though I always hesitate to do yoga so early in the morning, as my body is disgruntled to move more than in simple ways before the sun is higher in the sky, I truly enjoyed myself.   Bonnie’s Hatha Yoga class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. is an all levels, moderately paced flow class of perfect delight.  I recommend it for people like myself who want to move and perhaps have aches and pains in their bodies earlier in the day, I also recommend it for anyone who enjoys being up in the early morning fresh air and likes moving their bodies at that time.   Beginning the day with movement and centering is a perfect way to set yourself up for a whole day of ease, inspiration, and joy.   These classes are great for anyone!

I followed up class this morning with an excellent massage, which I also recommend to those who do yoga, do not do yoga, are participating in the challenge or just contemplating it.  Receiving the loving care of another in a way that opens up the  channels of energy in your body is always good for you.  Yes, I have had a really nice day.  I know that getting to class before Sunday just isn’t going to happen for me, and in knowing this I can enjoy the rest in my body and look forward to my return to the mat.

Have a wonderful weekend.

With love, always, for giving,

Genevieve

Genevieve’s Spring Yoga Challenge, Day 8 – Class 7

Today marked class number seven of twenty-one.  My body has reminded me throughout the day that it has done a lot of moving this week.  I am sore between my shoulders and in my arms, my neck feels more open than it has in months as do my hips, and I have been sleeping one to two hours more than my usual amount for the last few nights.  After a night of wild dreams I awoke this morning with a smile and a deep feeling of ease and happiness, a nice respite from the sorrow of this past week.

At noon I joined what felt like all of Taos for Clint’s yoga hour class.  It was, and always is, so much fun to do yoga in a full room, and today I think there were more than twenty-five of us.  When the space is full of bodies the energy is higher and deeply palpable.  As an owner of the studio, a full to the brim class is also a testament to the value of the offerings of our small business and the continued excellence of teaching at Shree, which brings me deep gratitude.

I love attending Clint’s classes.  I love attending any yoga class really, and all have something of value to offer, however Clint’s voice is like listening to the voice of my deepest conscience, which I guess says something about me.  I find the low tone of his voice to be sweetly soothing to my nerves and his insights touch my heart like the warmest hug. Clint opened class today with a parable, “The student asked the teacher, ‘When will I master this practice?’  The teacher said, ‘You will never master this practice’.”  Clint added, “nor will you master life”.   For life is always changing, and like the practice, one does not need to master it to benefit from it and enjoy it’s rewards.

Sustained practice over a long time enables one to effectively execute actions and responses that empower oneself and others.  This is the fundamental purpose of yoga, the Spring Yoga Challenge, and any practice that one disciplines themselves to.  The reward is not in mastering the practice, rather it is in finding ones way back to authenticity and alignment with ones highest morals and values when one has miss-stepped.  The reward is in knowing the difference between, and executing the action of, respondability versus reactivity.   Respondability happens when you are aware of your ability to choose your response to any given situation, and to choose the next right thing, the best possible choice, that which takes you to your fullest most radiant version of self right now.  The practice, whatever it may be, allows the opportunity to apply the successful use of the tools learned in that discipline to enable and support your highest good in action, be it plank, handstand, compassion, or forgiveness, etc.  Perhaps a level of mastery may not be reached however, in the effectiveness of your skillful action you can experience personal growth and the joy of immeasurable reward.

Though class this afternoon was basic and simple in its physical practice, there was an extremely advanced teaching being offered.  Bea Doyle, a brilliant yoga teacher in Albuquerque whom I did my teacher training with taught me that an advanced yogi is not someone who can touch their toes to their head.   Rather an advanced yogi is someone who can move with skill in action.  In yoga asana, skill in action starts with the basics, the foundation of the pose and knowing where the four corners of your hands and feet are.  For myself skill in the action of a peaceful and happy life is knowing that I get to choose what I think, and as Clint so kindly reminded us today in class it is also knowing that the breath is our friend, always available for us, always willing to support us and embrace us for as long as we are living.

This afternoon I am deeply grateful to Clint, and all of the spectacular teachers at Shree for being awesome and beautiful in their true humility and skillful, excellent teachings. Tonight, I will think of them all in a hot bath to sooth my aching muscles.

Lots of love, all ways, for giving,

Genevieve