Monthly Archives: August 2012

where’s the easy button at?

I was reminded this morning how I completely FORGOT to blog yesterday by one of my best friends, Alicia. So THX GURL for keeping me on track lol!!! It is true, the day just got away but I am here now πŸ™‚

 

One of my good yogini friends asked me the other day right before practice, “does life get any easier??” The million dollar question, right? We all have those stretches of times where we hit this road block, struggle to get up or around it and them boom you hit head on another one. Like we cannot get a BREAK!

So here is my answer to that question. Life is life. It is not easy and maybe its not hard either. I think it all depends on how we adapt and react. We can either allow a bump in our path to send us screaming, running back to bed to throw the covers over our head…OR step back and think “let me go get some gravel to fill that in.” The second reaction requires, WORK. Not hard work, not easy work. Just work.Β  These struggles or “bumps” are what make my path and your path so unique, they create change and transformation. They are OPPORTUNITIES. But sometimes it is hard to be at peace with this concept, how do we let go and just BE?

This is so relate-able to my yoga practice. Everyday I wake up and do the primary series my body feels and does things differently. For example this past sunday I was chugging along and when I got to Marichyasana D on the damn left side of mine…I FINALLY found my bind!!! (Will post pic) I was ecstatic! Monday, I was chugging along, got to Mari D on my left side…annnnnnd didn’t bind. Wtf. Ya, I got annoyed but I put it aside and kept going. This practice of yoga requires a lot of hard work or dedication, but I refuse to label it as HARD work. Because the fact is it that I LOVE it, to me Math is hard work and I hate math. So I do not what to label my practice as that lol. My practice is challenging work, very challenging.

The other day I sat down to re-read one of my favorite books, The Laws of Spirit by Dan Millman. I forgot how amazing this book was, it had been a while. This book is like my mini Yoga Sutras, it is so straight forward and really how I ultimately want to live my life. Each chapter is a different “law” and I came across “The Law of Faith” and goes into “Trusting in the Spirit”. What I love most about this book is how it is completely universal and not faith specific. But you can totally relate it to whatever religion you want, or just take it how it is. It talks about how this “spirit” is within all of us and how we need to have faith that all will work out the way it should. We have all the knowledge, wisdom, strength, and love already programmed within us. All of those things make up the Spirit. Practicing yoga helps peel away the layers or junk or hate, insecurities, weakness, to help us access this internal and ETERNAL spirit that we all have. We all have faith whether or not we know it. We all wake up each day, and for all we know it could be our last day, but we still get up. That’s faith. Thats the kind we all need to have in ourselves and others. I think with that kind of faith, pure peace of mind and heart can be achieved.
I learn something knew about myself on my mat every morning I practice and each day I feel a little strong both physically and mentally. But that doesn’t meant I stumble a few steps back now and then πŸ˜‰ Have faith in yourself and in all that you do and in all that happens to you. Because it will all lead to something extraordinary. That I am certain. And have faith in those around you, because we all have that same Spirit that resides in all of us, and with that, makes us one.

LOVE

ally

below: marichyasana D

Excerpt from the Laws of Spirit

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mmmm crunchy…

Hellooooo,
So I figure it would be easier just to do a post once a week, and Wednesday seems to be the day to do it πŸ™‚ So I can honestly say that I have had an uninterrupted practice (minus moon days and saturdays) since I began this whole blog. So two weeks of full primary. I have been feeling super strong and light during my practice and been having little breakthroughs here and there, I have been moving right along. UNTIL about two days ago when my lower back started giving me trouble…that dull, achy, CRUNCHY feeling -___- So the past two days I have had to modify my practice big time, especially with jump backs and backbends. This morning I got super frustrated because it started bothering me right after the sun salutations. And that is the very beginning of the series for those of you who don’t know.

I believe everything happens for a reason, so instead of forcing myself to finish the full series, I just went to finishing sequence and sat…and sat…and sat. Normally, with my hyper-competitive self, I would have ignored the pain and kept going. But this time I just knew better. As I sat, and sat, and sat…I realized how similar my back issue was to my struggles these past few years. When I started to realize that my bulimia was TRULY bulimia, I panicked. So I basically put it on the back-burner so to stay. I just pretended it wasn’t an issue and acted like the pain just wasn’t there. You can only ignore an issue for so long, this deep pain in my soul, heart, entire being got so bad that it was debilitating. I felt crippled, my true being was dormant, I simply felt dead.

“Pain: unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future.” (Wikipedia)

Pain happens for a reason and is not meant to be ignored. It is a message our body, mind, and/or heart sends to you because something needs your individual attention. Whether it be my crunchy back pain or damage that my eating disorder had taken on my mind and heart. This goes for anyone suffering. Address the pain, find the root. And allow yourself to HEAL. Forcing or ignoring it will cause more pain and it just becomes a snowball effect.

The healing process seems to be the hardest part of the entire process. We don’t want to slow down, lose progress, or show our weaknesses. Yeah sure, it kind of sucks that right as I am working on my drop backs my lumbar/sacral spine is giving me hell but it is what it is. Let me tell you, we lose MUCH more progress when we don’t address our “pain” right away and let it get out of control. And showing our weakness? That is what makes us REAL PEOPLE. When we expose ourselves and share our stories, that is when we make a connection with people and to other we look like super hero’s. So are they really weaknesses? I think we need a better word.

So when you experience pain, mental or physical (or both), FEEL it, find the ROOT, and HEAL.

Β To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

Friedrich Nietzsche

love to you all xo

A

slowly, slowly

So I have been itching all day to get to my computer to blog and after a long, but good, day at work I have a moment to sit. It has been exactly one week since I started this blog and my Mysore “prep” plan. I can tell you I have practiced everyday, except Saturday which is rest day. Today I went through the entire primary series and I FINALLY got into Garbha Pindasana! (I will post a pic for those who have no idea what the heck that is) Yeah, I did have to spray my arms and legs with water, but hey I still got into it. Now the rolling around is a different story….still working on that. (Holy core strength!) As for my diet…that’s what this post is primarily about.
So I had set these very strict rules about my diet and I have come to realize, which many of you probably thought this, that these guidelines were completely unrealistic. I have done this many times before, trying to make a “diet” plan on paper and thinking that it was totally reasonable, but thats my eating disorder talking. I will tell you that I have not eaten any meat besides a little salmon last night so I did an extra navasana this morning LOL. My diet has been very clean aside from the cookie cake and ice cream my friends and I got a few nights ago…totally worth it. And that in itself is a triumph, normally that kind of thing would have totally been a trigger food. But it wasn’t.

I have found over the past two years struggling with my eating that my yoga practice is key to my healing. When I have a steady, regular practice, my symptoms are practically gone. Do I think about it? Yes. But because of my practice, I am so aware and in tune with my body. I know how important it is to take care of and why it is important to chose wisely as to what you put into it. But, when i do not practice for long periods of time, I suffer the consequences severely. I feel out of touch with my Self and out of control in a way. So, I’m sure you are thinking…”so just dont stop practicing, duh”. Harder said than done, this thing called life gets in the way and before you know it, it has been three weeks since you rolled out your mat.

This time is different, I can feel it in my bones. I am so exhausted with the constant battle, a battle I know I can win because I have all the tools. Its not the talk therapy, doctors, or medication..its my Ashtanga practice. This system was built to heal, I mean it is called “yoga chikitsa” or in english “yoga therapy”.Yoga heals if you let it, and this time I am finally surrendering to its power.

Without my practice, I OBSESS over what I am going to eat or Ill binge and think its okay because I can just get rid of it. Just after a week of steady practice, I know just think of it as fuel. And thats all it really is. But if you want cookie cake and ice cream go for it! Everything in moderation right?? This healing process is exactly that, a process. I won’t wake up tomorrow and be like “Eating disorder? What eating disorder?!” No, just not possible. Having an eating disorder is like being an alcoholic, we are trying to find external sources for happiness and content meant. But does that mean I’ll always have an eating disorder or that alcoholics will always be alcoholics? Absolutely not. Will it be something we struggle with daily? Yes, but It doesn’t have to consume you or define you. I am not my struggles, I am who I am because of my struggles. Each day will bring new struggles, but through my practice I can slowly, slowly learn to deal with them in a non-harmful manner.

We all have our shit, though it may be different circumstances, its all still shit we have to deal with. But, it CAN be dealt with. I can now see my struggle as an opportunity rather than a burden or set back. Marcia told us back in teacher training that in the Chinese language, there is no word for challenge, they just use opportunity. I can actually say now that I am so thankful for the “shit” i have had to deal with. Because If it had never happened, I would have never found yoga, something that I am so passionate about that It brings me to tears and something that resonates deep into my soul. I have tried other forced paths of where I wanted to go in life, and its always led me back to my mat. So this time I am listening. We all have that calling, I think we just find it at different points in our lives. And I know I have found it at such a young age for a reason, and I giving 120% of my heart and soul to it.

In my first post I answered “Why India?”,Β  and I can answer that more in depth. First in foremost, I am going to heal. Immersing myself in practice and study of Ashtanga from the SOURCE is what I truly believe I need to finally put this all behind, but not to forget. Second, this is the first step in my journey to becoming the best teacher I can be. I know the healing power this system has and I have every plan to share it, with the proper authorization of course. πŸ˜‰ I am by no means trying to become the next yoga star, I just want to be able to share this practice with the world and to make a connection to those who feel like they are alone in their struggles. Mark my words, I will do just that.

So again, this is a novel in the making so i’ll wrap up. Even in this short week of REALLY practicing, I feel recharged, motivated, and content. Wherever you are on your life path and whatever you are dealing with, know that it is just a glitch in the process. Look deep into the root of it and maybe its just a sign from whoever or whatever that something needs to change. We tend to settle for what we think is normal and right, and we forget that we create our own reality.

Love to you all,

Ally

for those who had no idea what I was talking about…

Sunday Funday

Hey peeps!

I thought I would get in a quick post as I sit here sipping on my post-practice smoothie πŸ™‚ YUM. Today I went through the entire primary series (will post pics of what that is) and I am feeling really good.Β  I got through the entire thing, but for the life of me I cannot bind in marichyasana D on my left side!!! But there is always tomorrow, practice, practice!

I have been reading some pretty amazing blogs and have been connected to some people who are in Mysore right now, and it is getting me pretty pumped! But also nervous, because I have noooo idea what I am getting myself into. Its going to be tough to say the least, but also amazing. Lots of emotions going on lol. One of the blogs I have been following is a gal I have been chatting with via twitter, Shareen Woodford. Its funny and very enlightening on day to day life in mysore so check it out : http://manayoga.blogspot.com/

So what is the Primary Series? This is basically what it looks like on paper: (Thank you Michael Gannon!)

COPYRIGHT Β© 2012 MICHAEL GANNON.

 

Doesn’t look like much but, it usually takes between 90-105 minutes to complete when you add the breathing, holding the postures, jump backs, and repetitions on each side. So, this is what I will be doing 6 days a week (minus moon days) every morning here in the states and in India. For more info go to http://michaelgannonyoga.com/

I’m almost done with my smoothie and I need to get ready for a family day in Arlington, but I thought I would give you all an idea of what I am working toward. Again, thank you for reading and I promise that posts with a little more depth are coming. Shanti out!!

A

 

 

The magic drink

So, you can’t poop huh?

Try drinking this in the morning and at night before bed:

Hot water
Lemon juice
Cayenne pepper (Less is more!!!)

Too blunt or TMI? Then you might not wanna read this blog because there will be tons of poop talk here. ANYWHO, Marcia gave me this to try and dude it works. Our gut is our second brain, so when it’s not working properly we feel like crap (ha) and other issues start to rise. This kind of stuff is talked about regularly (I’m so punny) with my friends because several have new gluten intolerances.
So to get things regular try this hot drink, a good probiotic twice a day on an EMPTY stomach, oh and a regular yoga practice. If doing Marichyasana D six days a week, five breaths on each side doesn’t get things moving you either ate a rock or just not eating lol.

That’s all for today. Short, sweet and too the point!

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Moon day, shmoon day!

Here is my master plan….that is on my bathroom door LOL.

Gooooood Morning!

So I was up and at it early this morning because I had to teach at 6 am. It was a small class but sometimes those are the best. You feel a greater connection with your students and you can offer more hands on assistance and adjustments. AND one of my very good friends and fellow teacher, Suzy Powell, rolled herself out of bed to come take my class:)

Today, is the first day of some big changes to prep for my trip. (Ill post a pic of this “grand” plan). One of these big changes is diet. As of now I am now a vegetarian yet again…I hope you can feel the enthusiasm in my text. -____- Everything I have read, from Pattabhi Jois, Sharath, and other accomplished teachers diet is a HUGE factor in your practice and how deep you want to take it. Basically an Ashtangi diet consists of simple grains, fruit veggies, ghee, and milk. Ya, sounds like a party in your mouth right??? No. BUt I just see this as an opportunity to learn how to cook really well. I was once a vegetarian or pescatarian…whatever you want to call it but I only would eat fish. And since working at my health food store and being surrounded my many Weston A. Price peeps, I know the benefits of animal fats and protein and it just tastes good. But, If I am truly going to devote my life to this practice, I need to make the changes.

So, why do they say no meat?

Their are five forms of restraints, yamas, in the eight limbs of yoga. The first one is called ahimsa. This means non-violence. As yogi’s we need to practice non-violence in out thoughts, actions,and yes even our diet. So when we eat meat, we are taking a life, therefore practicing violence. So, when we eat meat, we take on that karma and heavy energy. So, when we eliminate meat, and eat a light, vegetarian diet we take on less karmic energy and then our practice can blossom. Again, this is all ancient yogi theory. Not mine. But I have seen what a diet change can do for your practice so I am going to give it 100% of my effort.

So, from now on or until i get back from India, I am a veggie again.

So whats with the title of this post? Moon day? Today there is a full moon. And Ashtangi’s take rest on days there is a full and new moon. Why? Just like the moon effects the tide in the ocean, it takes an effect on our bodies too because We are made up of 75% (ish) water. When the moon is full (like today) it tends to make us more emotional/energetic but not well grounded, and a new moon can make us feel to grounded to the point of exhaustion. For more info check out this link http://www.ashtangayogacenter.com/moon.html

I was bad and practiced after I taught today but today was day 1 of my prep plan! Anyway Ill keep this post shorter than last, thank you to everyone who is reading this. Ill update regularly but not daily just because that would get annoying AND boring. Someone eat a burger for me today. XO

A

Today I practiced in front of Ganesh. I deity that is close to my heart and guards it. Those who know me well see him hanging from my neck everyday πŸ™‚

8487.3 miiillllleeessss away

KPJAYI

Props to Caroline Williams for my first post title LOL. A select few will understand. Tomorrow, August 1st, means I am exactly 8 weeks away from my journey to Mysore, India, where I will immerse myself in six weeks of daily yoga practice. Some of you may be asking “Why the $@*! India???” The food, duh!

No but really, why?

Yoga had always been another form of physical exercise to me. As a highly competitive volleyball player I saw the benefits immediately. I gained strength, I was never injured, and I learned some pretty sick party tricks. “Hey guys look where I can put my legs!” But that was it. Purely physical. As life trudged on, I found myself dealing with the stresses of figuring out college stuff, boyfriends, and an eating disorder that would soon change my life. (Ya, shit just got real) Graduation, beach week, and summer came and went and BOOM i was in college.

Freshman year was…interesting to say the VERY least. I was facing a new social scene, depression, and my spiraling out of control bulimia. Basically just hated life. Did and said things I wish I could take back but life just doesn’t work that way. So the next thing you know Im home for my second year of college. Hell yeahhh NOVA. It had been well over a year since I had been on my shitty, over priced yoga mat and I thought it was a good time to buy a new fancy Manduka (which I love) and find a new studio. I started taking class at Flow Yoga in Leesburg, Virginia and before I knew it was was working front desk and finding myself practicing regularly. I then decided, with the encouragement of my parents, to do the 200 hour teacher training that was starting up in January led by Marcia Hoffheins and Julia Kalish. And so I did. And boy what a journey.

January 2011, began the six month training or transformation I like to call it. I immediately connected with everyone in my group and we all became very close. It was pure bliss the first few weekends learning postures, sequencing, anatomoy and then oh shit…the Sutras, the Gita, philosophy…. All of a sudden my deep rooted issues of my sense of failure from my freshman year, my depression, bulimia, and stress of the unknown ahead of me bubbled to surface. I had to deal with them head on. As Marcia would say, this is when the REAL yoga happens. REAL life crap. I worked through it. Come May 2011, a month before we all graduate, Michael Gannon, a well known Ashtanga yoga teacher, came to Flow to put on a two day workshop. I had some hours to make up for training so I signed up for the led primary series and bandhas workshop. I didn’t think anything of it. After the first session with Michel I signed up for the rest of the weekend. Those two magical days changed everything, I had found my practice. Ashtanga Yoga. Those last few months of training were indescribable. I was so at peace with who i was, where I was, and where I was going. THAT was pure bliss.

Fast Forwarding…left that summer to life guard at the beach, went to my “dream” school at USC, my bulimia flared up HARDCORE, and BOOM im home again. W.T.F.

I dragged myself a long, feeling more down than ever. I was working, subbing at Flow, and taking class. Then Michael Gannon came back in February for a week long Ashtanga intensive training (obvi i did it). And thats all it took. I was recharged, inspired AGAIN, and ready to move forward and to take this as an opportunity. Next thing you know, by brother fronts me 1400 bucks for a plane ticket to Mysore. Say WHAT??!!??!

WORDS OF ADVISE: do not wait to tell your parents about life changing decisions. ( I did) and it was not pretty. BUT after months of serious tension, they are pretty pumped about it. LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD.

So again, Why Mysore, India???

Mysore, India is the birth place of Ashtanga Yoga. Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya passed down this system of yoga to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois who then opened K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga (research) Institute (KPJAYI). Though Guruji (Jois) no longer walks this earth, his passion and teachings still remain very much alive by his daughter (Saraswathi), son (Manju), grandson (Sharath, who I will be studying with), and the select who were authorized by him or his family to teach. So, Im going to mysore to learn from the direct source. But I am really going 8487.3 milllleeesss away from home to deepen my practice, open my heart, to heal, and to transform. And I want you all with me along the way.

The link attached is KPJAYI’s website for those interested in more info.

Buckle up folks and let the count down BEGIN!

xo

Ally