Yoga me Yes! Independent Yoga Practice – Part II

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The reason we are called The Emerald Coast

Who are you? What defines you? Is your occupation who you are or simply what you’re good at? Teacher, Flight Attendant, Doctor, Mechanic, Server, Lawyer? Does your role in personal relationships define you? Parent, Spouse, Child? Sibling, Cousin, Friend? Is it a hobby or a faith?

We have this 24/07 newsreel society. We are plugged in, turned on, our faces reflected in the bright white flashing of scrolling screens – images everywhere – dulling our eye contact with real-life humans in front of us.

Escapeism has always existed. Screens – phones, computers, and tablets are just the new wrapping paper in which a very old, regifted concept of “checking-out” is prettily presented.

Balance. We need balance, and unplugging should be part of all our daily routines.

I love to be outside. I love yoga. A little over a week ago, I decided to consistently let myself have both of those and to time my sessions with the sunrise. The last half of my week was a challenge. We had a busy weekend schedule, and my work-load amped up. Our homeschool group had our first activity after summer break, also. Yet, I set the priority, and I kept my practice – no YouTube, no walls; rather, I had outside, self-guided yoga practice.

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Beautiful Pines in my back yard illuminated with the pink and orange light from the sunrise.

Session 5: It was tough to get to my mat. However, I worked it in. The rain from tropical storm Gordon left everything outside soaked (even our back porch). So, that was the only day I practiced inside. I snatched a 25ish minutes to practice, decompress, and continue about my day.

Session 6: Our subconscious minds fascinate me. While practicing, I reached a new level with a balance posture. The consistent practice had prepared me. I write, daily. I try to work on my novel, daily, in the are-you-crazy-for-waking-this-early-Janie? morning hours. After writing, I went to my mat. While I haven’t had writer’s block, I have had a plot-hurdle to work through, and the answer came, and it was so simple. Why hadn’t I thought of it before?

Session 7: During this last session, I rested more. I truly listened to my body. I focused on areas where I was the most stiff, and then I moved into a general flow. I allowed quiet in.

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Bumblebee in the grass

My last session during this week was filled with gratitude for what I have. I am always grateful, but in my heart, I have moments of sadness that occasionally whisper by like a ghost from the past because I miss someone who has died. So many. And, then, I look up and see my husband, our son; I see that the trees are green and the roses are red; I see a snail inching by or bees bouncing in the too-long, rain soaked grass, and I know God gives me those moments to bring me back. To heal me, a little more. To remind me of his presence and his love.

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My Mac, running and playing in our back yard. 

Yoga is a stretching of the body, the mind, and the spirit, I believe. All my life I have had morning devotional time, prayer time, and that is one time I experience God guiding me. I have discovered that, without book, bible, journal, and pen in hand, this is another time in which I hear the Lord, and it is good. We don’t allow ourselves the time to reflect. Our bodies, our minds, our souls are a gift, and we shouldn’t squander them. Yoga is a time we can move our body and in doing so, our body’s movement allows our mind and soul to move in new ways. Then, we discover a little more about who we are.

 

Namaste and all that jazz,

JG

 

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Yoga me Yes! Indpendent Yoga Practice: Part I

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I am entering the busy part of my work schedule. In the past, I have occasionally allowed work to take over and at the end, while I may not look it on the outside, I feel like a hunched-over, joint-popping, creaky crone who can hardly move.  At the beginning of this week, I determined to explore practicing yoga totally on my own for the period of a week. I have documented the sessions on my Instagram account at @emeraldgreenwriter. This is the half-way point in my week-long journey. Best thing is, I don’t feel like that creaky old crone!

First, it was a rough start!

Session 1: I started well, found a great yoga music track on Prime, but I became distracted. Each day, I practice outside while my son is asleep and before my husband leaves for work. I had my baby monitor with me that we still use since we are in a two-story house, and I kept hearing toy sounds. I checked it a few times thinking my son was awake, but I didn’t hear him. Turns out it was a Thomas the Train riding toy going berserk on the back porch. So, I got back to my practice, but I kept thinking about how I would record my journey. I planned posts. I planned blogs. Then, I stopped. I refocused. I finished my session, and I realized how hard it is to turn my “thinking mind” off without a cue from an instructor. I had a lot to work on, the first being focus and remaining present. I decided there are a few poses I wanted to work on each day. It was really amazing to see a friendly neighborhood bumblebee eating its morning breakfast from my painted lady hibiscus. IMG_2507

Session 2: I started recording by days, and I skipped day 2. I know, I made a commitment, and I didn’t even get to day 2. It had been a rough sleep night with the munchkin and a very busy family day. So, I forgave myself, moved on, and started session 2 on the third day. I had much better focus and balance. That was my little mantra: focus and balance. It was wonderful. I love seeing the moon against the light blue and pink sky as the sun rises. Only when I get up early and go outside, do I get to see such sights. I used no music, but I simply let the sound of the wind in the trees and the birds waking to be my background audio calm. IMG_2525

Session 3: I listened to the audio track I found during session 1. Calm and balance. Stillness. Being performance based with years of dance training, cheerleading as a teenager, with yoga, I fall into the habit of wanting to “hit” each pose synchronized with my breath. I want to “do” my yoga correctly. I realized this and caught myself. Yoga is about the journey. It’s more about the journey than the destination. The “how” you move from one “position” or “pose” to another is what gives you strength and builds your muscles, clams your mind, and enriches your spirit. The whole experience can’t exist without the in between, without the journey. So, at the end of my session, I held mountain pose and practiced just “being,” and that is hard to do! It’s difficult to be present. Practice reflects life: enjoy the journey and be present.

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Session 4: So-called distractions don’t have to be distracting. Embrace and incorporate. Allow and celebrate. My sweet son walked out on the porch, and I gave him a snuggle and kiss while in warrior 2 position, and I asked if he’d like to go see the bumblebees eating their breakfast. He said yes, and I directed him to the painted lady hibiscus. We talked about his new toy lobster from our friends who brought it back to him from their trip to Main. We named it Larry.

Ultimately, I’m learning to trust myself in my own practice. Without getting too mystical, it is a good time to move, simply be, and experience epiphanies that may not as easily occur without the practice.

Namaste,

J.

Be True – Be You

 

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Sometimes, you have to mix things up! Stimulate your mind and your soul. I rolled out of bed at 5:30am (late for this early bird), and I saw a blue sheen peeking in around the window frame. I wanted to go straight outside to the back porch and practice yoga there, today. Refreshing and rejuvinating in the cool morning air, it was nothing short of majestic.

I am certainly no yogi, but I love the effects of yoga. I also love how the process and practice changes the way we think and how we go about our day-to-day lives. I follow Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, and today’s yoga session was Day 30 of her True series, and it was one of those independent sessions: no verbal instructions, no cues, only music and a visual.

I had eyes on my laptop screen, trying to enjoy the music, the glowing sunrise, and the cool, crisp air. I was trying to watch and follow along. But, it was just awkward, craining my neck while in cobra. IMG_2467

At some point, I stopped trying. I started moving. I realized that I know enough to practice my own flow. I trusted myself, my knowledge, and I created my own experience. I listened to my body, and I knew what I needed, next. The payoff in trusting myself is that I had the quiet and reflection – I had an epiphany about something going on in my life. I was me on the mat; I was true to myself, and I had the best experience possible.

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How often do we doubt ourselves? We look to others when we should look inside and trust that we know exactly what we’re doing and can handle whatever comes at us. While on my mat, for the first time, in a long time, I came to the point of reflection, whispered a prayer, and had an awakening.

It’s all about the journey, I think, what brings us to these little bursts of enlightenment and laughing upon reflection, and thinking, “Well, of course. That makes perfect sense. Why didn’t I realize it before?” We weren’t supposed to realize it before. We weren’t ready. The road brought us to a point, and we were able to accept and move forward. It’s kind of how God works.

Namaste,

J.

 

Yoga Evolution

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Royal Dancer balance position

In the last year, yoga has come to mean more to me than simply a way to exercise or a way to de-stress. It has become a grounding point for me. The lessons we learn on the mat carry over into life off the mat. The muscle memory we learn in yoga help us when pursuing sports and allows us to perform better, physically. The calming breathing techniques keep us calm in the midst of the crises that bombard our day. Are their times I practice a nice, loud lion’s breath exhale? Admittedly, only in certain company (or no company)! But, it’s the consistent practice and the experience that can keep you as cool as Patrick Swayze in the midst of a massive, ugly bar fight, Roadhouse style.

I have praised the youtube yogi sensation, Yoga with Adriene in a previous blog post. I still follow her and highly recommend her to anyone who is interested in yoga – whether a brand new yogi or an expeirenced one. She is professional, fun, and free. It’s hard to find the time to get out of the house and get to a yoga class. Parents need to take care of their bodies, minds, and souls. We have an incredible job of raising our youngsters, and raising them well. This is perfect!

Right now, I am following Adriene’s new series, True. I love that her dog, Benji, is just hanging out in the video with her. Usually, I have my dog, likewise, sleeping nearby, a little 2-year-old cat rolling around next to me, trying to attack my arms or my mat, and my 3 year old occasionally taking breaks from playing legos and jumping next to me on the carpet wanting to do “his exercise and his yoga.” His downward dog is solid. And what better way can I teach my kiddo a healthy lifestyle than by living it and being an example to him from the get-go?

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My short board praying for bigger waves. Shaped by famous board shaper Ricky Carroll at my friend Cliff Millender’s old surf shop back in da day. B-day gift from my husband seven years ago who bought it from Cliff.

We’re in surf season around here in the northern gulf. Winter/spring kicks up some good storms and some nice waves. Hurricane season will, too, but we don’t have to fear the weather channel right now. I’m a longboard girl, mostly because I started surfing later in life, and I live in Florida, but I’ve ridden my short board, and while I don’t really shred and won’t be trying as a wild card in any major surf competitions at the age of 41, surfing is something I can do the rest of my life, unlike other sports. And yoga supports my surf addiction, love for kayaking, as well as my newfound love for paddle boarding. Yoga helps my balance. I remember to lift up from my center and correct the alignment of my core while paddling. I can control my surfboard and my paddle board better because of my yoga practice and muscle memory. I can run around and play with my son, Mac. I throw a football better! I can help my husband move a piece of moderately heavy furniture. I no longer suffering from lower back issues, like I used to. None of us is getting younger, but we can feel younger in our bodies through the practice of yoga.

Whatever your workout regimen, work in a little yoga. You will not regret it.

Namaste,

J.

Gulf Coast Surfing

Yes. Yes, you can surf the gulf coast.

I started surfing when I was 30 years old on the East Coast of Florida, Cocoa Beach. I was living in Orlando, 45 minutes from Cocoa Beach, single, and ready to take charge of my life in a brand new way after some personal discoveries. Surfing had been a lifelong dream and taking action was a result of inner change.

For the first time in my life, I now live two minutes from the beach. Two minutes! I still can’t believe it. It’s the result of ten years of hard work and sacrifice by my husband. I am thrilled to live closer to the water, knowing I have more of an opportunity to play on the water. Before we moved over here, I figured I’d get to surf occasionally, when there was a storm in the gulf. In the meantime, I’d learn to paddle board, and I’d body board, play and swim. It’s the ocean – my place of peace on this earth.

My dad grew up in Tallahassee, and I used to hear him tell stories of surfing in the ’60s on the gulf coast. It was always fascinating to me – a dream world of adventure and fun. There was the most exciting story about a shark. Dad was out surfing, and all of a sudden all of his buddies on shore were jumping around and waving at him to come in. He turned and saw the shark and never paddled so hard in his life to get into shore. We talked about surfing together, but being two hours away from the nearest surf  spot before the internet existed made surfing more difficult. Dad taught me how to swim and how to body surf and ride waves; he gave me a strong foundation. He also was thrilled when I started surfing. Unfortunately, he only saw me surf on video since he was in the last years of fighting cancer and we lived 4 hours from each other. That video was of me surfing waves at Big Island, Hawaii. Pretty epic.

Thanks to my friend, Cliff Millender, I surfed the panhandle gulf years before I moved here, but it was when I came up from Orlando and a bunch of us piled in the car and drove together from Tallahassee. The first time I surfed the gulf, it was different surf than East Coast and what I was used to. The waves were more mush than even the east coast. Cliff’s so good, he got barreled several times because he’d been surfing for 12 years or more at the time and got outside to the cleaner waves. I’d been surfing less than a year, then, and I was happy to ride the wash. 

A beautiful thing: living here, having the ability to view the beach daily, I know how wrong I was. Again. This place has frequent and decent surf, and I don’t have to wait for storms. With the jetties around, there is almost always a place to catch a wave.


So, if you love to surf and you want to make your home in a beautiful area of the country, don’t forget about Florida’s gulf coast. Pristine, crystal water, friendly folks, and nice waves.

Aloha.

Namaste Newbie


I admit, I am new to yoga even though I’ve been doing yoga for years.

I’ve been “doing” yoga…not “practicing;” thus, I am a newbie, a rookie.

While I have enjoyed yoga in my life as a yummy workout, complete with all things a childhood ballet dancer and cheerleader holds dear: stretching, lifting, balance, strength, movement, I haven’t begun to grasp the benefits of the deeper side of yoga until lately.

Yoga, and my physical therapist, saved my back. I am able to run and play with my two year old, I feel amazing, and I don’t wake up in pain. I had days where I wondered if I would ever be able to surf again.

I’ve met some amazing new friends in my recent move, and one of them teaches Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. When I learned that, I was like, “Hell yeah! I’m in!”

And then I realized, “Oh, yeah. I’ve got serious work to do to get in shape for that!” Truly, I don’t. Since I have a basic foundation, I have since learned that I can enjoy practicing SUP yoga.

My SUP Yogi friend, who is also a life coach and photographer, Lindsay Havlicek Bell, who can do scorpions and all kinds of fun tricks that I want to learn to do…someday, during a casual conversation about Yoga a few months ago while chasing our toddler sons, asked how often I “practiced” yoga.

Practiced? Well, I “do” yoga a few times a week, when I’m working out, when I’m not unboxing a house and chasing my 2 year old. I hadn’t done yoga in a while, and I have never “practiced” yoga.

Mac following the tracks left by beach patrol at Grayton State Park.

What is “practicing” yoga? What makes someone a “yogi” and how on earth can someone go from “doing” yoga casually, like me, to doing a handstand and curving your back so that your toes touch your head? I mean, I’m flexible, but I am not a contortionist! And, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get to that level, but I believe yoga is more about the journey than the destination. So, with full curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I did what any 40 year old wife and mother who has no time to go out to a yoga studio would do: searched YouTube.

And there I discovered delightful and quirky yogi, Adriene. Yoga with Adriene has over 2 million subscribers.

I started Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution #yogarevolution. I wanted something to encourage the journey of yoga and to learn from a true yogi. I didn’t want yoga for weight loss or hot yoga. I’ve done that. Race in, roll out the mat, enjoy the breathing and stretching. At the beginning of a class, I’m as tight as a coil, and afterwards I’m gumby. It’s awesome! But I knew there was more.

Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution has a theme for each day. Day 1:  Practice Ease

Lesson one:  how you are on the mat is how you are off the mat.

And, boy, was I distracted.

While practicing, ideas were flying through my mind: I’ll blog this experience – how often will I write? daily? weekly? writing…need to get up earlier every single day…need to finish my calendar, organize my to-do list for the day, week, month, year! I need to finish the dishes, fold that pile of laundry, get materials together for Mac’s learning time, and on and on. I was so distracted on the mat as I had been in life off the mat.

Day 2: Practice with Intention; off the mat? Live with intention. While in the transition of setting up house in a new town, getting used to a new life, looking for jobs, making new friends, starting a new business, and working at home taking care of my toddler, it’s easy to feel pulled and stretched like saltwater taffy. Intention was exactly what I needed both on and off the mat.

The immediate days following consist of the following themes: Honor your practice; PRANA Practice; Practice Rhythm; Attention (And Abs) Practice; Stability Practice, etc.

Themes of yoga practice spill over into daily life. I have received more from this practice than any class or other DVD yoga practice as I don’t feel rushed. I don’t feel the need to burn a certain amount of calories during a session. I don’t care about how I look other than proper posture.

Also, I have really focused on listening to Adriene as she instructs as opposed to watching what she is doing. I anticipate less. I need to anticipate less in life, as well. I find much of my practical daily life and even my faith is more focused. I hear better. I anticipate less. I wait. I steadily do what I know I should, and I move through my practice, as well as my day, taking everything as it comes. This is huge for me. I am a problem solver. My family and I joke that sometimes I try and solve problems that don’t even exist, yet. I anticipate potential outcomes and try and plan to avoid potential disasters or problems. That isn’t bad on a small scale, occasionally, but it can be a hinderance to living because that isn’t living in the present moment – the now.

Grayton State Park – appears virtually untouched.

Your time on the mat reflects your time off the mat. Listen, don’t anticipate. Don’t worry about what is coming next, but remain in the present. Learn. Enjoy the journey.

Thanks Lindsay. Thanks Adriene.

Namaste, J.

 

Hey, Hey, Namaste

 

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Sunset, Big Island, HI

Yoga has saved my life.

Okay, a little dramatic, but it has surely saved my lower back. Yoga and a great physical therapist.
I have a common lower back issue with my sacroiliac joint, or SI joint. In the past, the pain has prevented me from living the active life I always have. Chiropractic care, while it serves a purpose, did not help me. Physical therapy, exercise, including stretching and yoga, keeps me active so I can play with my toddler, surf, kayak, and simply walk with no pain.

Benefits I receive from yoga:
1. My shoulders detach from my ears…I let go of stress!
2. Improved flexibility. I was a dancer when I was younger, and I still love to line dance and ballroom dance, occasionally. I am flexible, but yoga has helped me reach another level of flexibility.
3. Peace. I know I sound cliche, here, but releasing the stress, focusing on the stretching and balancing, frees me of daily worries.

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Ochos Rios, Jamaica

4. Physicality. I improve in other activities and athletics. Balance, flexibility, and focus flows over into other movement.
5. I smile more. I am a better person. Releasing the stress, focusing on breathing, balance, and stretching promotes mental and emotional stimulation in addition to the physical. Woods comma Elle said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” – Legally Blond

Check out a yoga studio or a class at your gym. You can do what I do – yoga at home. Look for a yoga DVD and read reviews; I love the original P90X Yoga that is an hour and forty-five minutes. I usually don’t do the entire DVD, but when I do, it’s amazing! It comes with the entire program, but there are other yoga DVDs available.