May 23, 2011

Holding Space and Deliberate Vulnerability

Mr. Neo
In yoga teacher training and through out the practice we learn a lot about holding space for our students. While it's not a skill you can necessarily learn, it is a part in all of us that we have to cultivate. How can we be present for the student crying on the mat, the student fearful and nervous, the student who is full of confidence? We have to hold space for all of them, in the same room at the same time. It's not easy, but it gets easier. While this area of my teaching practice is growing in leaps and bounds it was almost missing in part of my personal life.

I couldn't hold space for my cat this morning.

When taking, Neo, my 11-year-old tabby, to the vet for a procedure to treat his dental disease I got scared. The vet still reminds me of losing Murphy. I remember picking up his remains and I get sick with grief. I tried to keep it together for Neo, but it was hard. Tears were beginning to flow as they took him away. I hope he only sensed my love and not my fear.

I realized I felt so vulnerable, exposed. Yet I remembered my words to my students this weekend, "See vulnerability not as weakness, not as being exposed, but as an opportunity to willingly move to the wobbly place,  because good things come from being shaky". I need to heed those words. I realized that my willingness to put Neo's health above my own comfort level was a way of holding space for him. My willingness to return to a trusted veterinarian despite the pain was a way to be vulnerable in the most deliberate way so that I could rebuild my experience and add new memories, memories of a cat healing, not only of a dog saying goodbye.

The beauty of the Universe...she will quickly make sure you're ready to teach the ideas you're sharing by ingraining that personal experience more deeply within you. Have you come up against your past lately? Is it preventing you from moving forward, from holding space for someone who needs you?

Think about it.  How can you be present in an are of discomfort and hold space? How can you choose to be vulnerable in a deliberate, even delicious way? If you choose to take on these tasks, in what ways will your world open and expand? Give it a try, it's worth it.

May 20, 2011

Rockin' the Bustle Bum Yoga Pants

I decided to get myself a gift for graduating yoga teacher training. I wanted something fun and inspirational. I thought maybe jewelry but wasn't sure. Then I discovered these Bustle Bum Pants on Etsy!

These pants were with me the first time I taught a public class and I felt empowered. Yeah, yeah, I get my power should come within, and it does. However these pants tapped into my sass when I was feeling a little anxious and I felt calmer and ready to go.

I love the yoga pants that include a skirt but wanted something a little fancier than the norm and these are perfect. The pants are handmade and well crafted. I love the color and the size I ordered was true to the measurements listed on the site. They take about three weeks to make plus delivery time so plan ahead if you're going to order a pair.

I love the other designs in the Herban Devi shop as well. I imagine I will be ordering again in the near future. I was also impressed that they communicate quickly in regard to any questions.

May 6, 2011

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Artwork by Paul-Baptiste Baca
When I first joined Twitter, I joined with the name CupcakeMafia. It was funny but more important it exemplified who I am, a girl who is both sweet and tough. After awhile it seemed most of my contacts on twitter were outdoorsy, particularly climbers. I began to think that I should change my name to reflect that part of me. Something inside me told me to stay with what I had. Then again when I began to immerse myself in yoga and yoga folk, I thought....Cupcake Mafia doesn't scream "Yogini" but I stayed the course. In the last few months I have figured out why.

There has been a lot of talk about "identity" lately, particularly amongst my outdoorsy friends. They notice that they've expanded their interest and evolved. People once known as "Climbing" people are now skiing people, cycling people, paddling people. No one thing defines them. For those who let one thing, like climbing, define them, then face an injury, a loss of partner, a relocation, they're lost for awhile. They were a "Climber", now what?

I have thought about how I have identified myself both in the past and present. Words like Climber, Cyclist, Bookwork, Seamstress, Knitter, Yogini, Daughter, Girlfriend, Aunt, Athlete, Caretaker of Animals....these all came out of my mouth. When asked about myself it was always, "I work at blah blah blah, I live with blah blah blah, My hobbies include....". My identity was driven by external factors.

I stepped back and thought about those words and how they were not what defined me, but rather the core values they share. Rather than describe myself with brief words I am so much more.

I am someone:

  • With a great capacity for love
  • Who feels more connected to the earth and people of the world when I am outdoors
  • Able to recognize the unity of my mind, soul, and body more when I participate in physical activities
  • Who is willing to protect people she loves 
  • Who feels at peace after bringing a project from start to finish
  • Who remains open to new paths and new challenges

You get the picture. It's not an exhaustive list but it's a glimpse at how my process works. It has made a huge difference. I no longer dwell on the fact that I may not climb as much as I would like, that maybe I am no longer a climber. Rather I say, I may not climb as much but the part of my soul that is fueled from climbing is fueled with yoga, riding my bike, and so many other areas.

My identity is not dependent upon how often or how well I do something. Rather it's fluid, it evolves, and comes from what brings me joy, what makes me cringe, but on a really big level. My identity is also not dependent on how much I let others see. I can give as much or as little of each of these elements in my relationships and interaction and still maintain my authenticity.

So for my friends who are struggling with identity or even if you haven't given it much thought considering going through this process. Get rid of the words that are so static and describe yourself with core messages and phrases. Present yourself in a greater way. On that note... I better go change my biography ;-)

May 4, 2011

Water Heals: Rejuvenating at A New Spirit Spa

It is no secret that water is necessary for our survival. We need it to function optimally. Water has also been a symbol of healing, rejuvenation, and rebirth. So when I was offered a chance to try out a session in flotation bed and Body Cleanse foot bath at A New Spirit spa in Denver I couldn't resist.

Located near the Highlands neighborhood on 29th Avenue, A New Spirit has Denver's only flotation beds. The flotation beds are designed not to be sensory depriving but rather limiting of stimulation. The water has about 800-1000 lbs of Epsom salts, enabling the body to float comfortably in just enough water to cover the ears. There is ambient music that can be turned off if you prefer. 

My first flotation session was certainly more than I expected. When I arrived I was coming off of a yoga teacher training weekend. I was incredibly sore and tired on an emotional and physical level.  I was checked in, offered tea or water, and shown to the shower room to rinse off any lotions and other product prior to entering the bed. Then on to the flotation bed. I'm not going to lie, they look very space age, I felt like Ripley from the Alien series climbing into a hibernation pod. Once I got in the bed, I felt quite warm despite the water is at room temperature. I closed the door, and got settled in. 

While not pitch black it is still fairly dark which I find very soothing. I began to explore different ways of resting in the bed, and my two favorites were in a standard Savasana type pose and Supta  Baddha Konasana. Soon the point where my skin ended and the water began fell aways. I felt at peace in my little cocoon and was able to walk through some meditations in my mind. Eventually even the meditation fell away, I am fairly certain I fell asleep. After an hour, there was a gentle knock on my bed and I slowly came back to full consciousness. The first thing I noticed as I exited the bed, I wasn't sore. When I walked in to the spa my triceps were so sore that I winced at certain movements. There was  no longer any pain. I am not sure if they results are typical but that is enough to ensure I will plan on floating after any major physical event (Races, yoga weekends, climbing weekends). Additionally, I had a new feeling of clarity and focus but not in a hyper but rather a way that was sustainable. 

Then it was back to the showers. After soaking in Epsom salt for an hour it's a good idea to wash your hair and such. The shower room at A New Spirit is nicely stocked with all kinds of yummy products you feel like you're at home. Once I was ready and dressed it was on to the Body Cleanse. 

Again, I can't lie. The way the Body Cleanse works is a bit above my understanding of physics and particles. What I do know is the foot bath pulls out toxins from the various body systems. I went from having clear water to black and red particles as well as white foam. I noticed in the says following my allergies were much less severe than they had been in weeks and overall I felt more energetic.

The Flotation and Body Cleanse foot bath were the perfect end to a very long weekend. I will definitely be back again and perhaps add in a massage or facial next time. If you're in the Denver area please check out A New Spirit. They're a hidden gem, with reasonable prices and exquisite quality of services.