Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Thank You Series ~ Class 2: Amazed!

What a difference a week makes. I’m talking about the number and diversity of the people who showed up for class this past Sunday. Of course once again in my excitement I forgot to take a photo of everyone so I’ll have to paint you a picture one more time. But before I do that I want to back up a bit.

For Sunday’s class I wasn’t as last minute in planning as usual. It was still a Saturday night planning session, but at least it wasn’t midnight. I also wasn’t as nervous as I had been the prior week, but I was still feeling some butterflies. I guess it’s just like in yoga teacher training (YTT). The first week is killer on the psyche. I mean you have no idea how it’s all going to go. Our teachers told us, “If you don’t make some mistakes in the first practice teach then you fail.” LOL. Of course not really, but the point is that we were learning. So this week of class was much like week two of practice teach. I felt more confident, but I was still nervous.

As you know, these are my Thank You classes to folks who donated toward me getting to YTT. A woman named Kathryn donated to my fundraiser, but she emailed and said she couldn’t make it to Brooklyn for class because she lives in Dobbs Ferry, NY, which is about an hour or so away in the Hudson Valley. So she asked me if she could transfer her comp to her friend Pat who happens to live around the corner from where I’m teaching. Of course the answer was yes and with that I knew I had one student for Sunday. Also my friend Stephanie told me she was coming so that was two, both of whom had a free class. I emailed Pat to let her know she was all set, and she told me she was bringing a few folks. Nice! Then Rachel of Hip Dhamma said she emailed her list to tell them about my class as well. Since you never know how things will do, I was sticking to my two people for sure. This is New York and people are known to change their plans on the fly.

When I arrived at Freebrook on Sunday there were just a few things to straighten up and then I would be good to go. My friend Desiree came by with her two sons to wish me luck before class, which was great! Then before I knew it people were showing up for class.

I think Chris was first. Yeah, one man in class! He came because of the email that Hip Dhamma sent out. Then Pat showed up with one of her friends. She thought it would just be the two of them, but then two more of her friends came through the door.

Now let me tell you about Pat and friends. These are grown folks if you get what I’m saying. I have no idea how old they really were and they all look amazing, but these ladies could have been grandmothers and I loved it! They had great energy and it was an honor to teach them on Sunday. So that made 5 people in class up from 2 the week before. Then I got my third surprise, Ganessa came! Ganessa is my friend and bassist in my band. Turns out that was her first yoga class and she loved it! That really meant a lot of me because I think a persons first yoga class is so important. I think that will dictate if they go back again.

For my series I have to wear all the hats. So I’m taking money, checking my comp list, setting up the room so there is enough space fore everyone and trying to center myself as well. As we started to settle in, the people kept coming. Next came Tiffany, then Stephanie, then Maria, then Bianca and then Erica! I couldn’t believe it. The room was packed. If anyone else had come I would have had to turn them away. Now that’s crazy.  I had a feeling this might happen, but not till the final week. I was a bit overwhelmed looking out at all the faces, but it was also an overwhelming feeling of joy.

As I mentioned, this was week 2 of my Thank You Series. So the focus was on giving thanks for your body. So often we say such mean things to ourselves about our body. Sometimes it’s so subtle that we are not mindful of the negative self talk at all. Then we wonder why our body fails us. Think about it.  So the class was all about giving thanks even for those parts that give us aches and pains and to breathe some good energy into those places.  This time I made a class plan that was that was the correct amount of time. Actually it was probably just a minute or so long. So next week my goal is to be right no time.

When class ended, my students applauded! Now that was wild. They were not all people that I knew so that was totally unexpected. I’m surely not teaching yoga for the roar of the crowd. That’s why I make music and get on stage to perform it. Teaching yoga, doing Reiki, and healing in general is such a deep calling for me. Music and art is right in there, but hands on touch and moving meditation is the tops.
After class some of the students came up to talk to me, and folks wanted to sign my mailing list. I am so thankful. So, so thankful.

The picture that I really want you to see when you close your eyes and think about this class is the colors, shapes, genders and sizes of the people who came. So often when people think about yoga the picture that comes their minds eye is that of a young, skinny or very fit, white woman in a very small and sometimes expensive yoga outfit. Well I’m here to tell you that yogis come in all shapes, sizes, colors and genders. Some people think that black people don’t do yoga, but yes we do! Ninety-eight percent of my class was people of color. Yes that does have something to do with the neighborhood, but they came. Also I had grown folks in my class and one man, which no matter what color is wonderful. I would love to see more men in yoga. The sizes of people probably ranged from size 6 to 16. It was just beautiful. Also people levels varied greatly, but I offered props and assistance and we had a great time.

I know I should stop sounding like I’m in such shock, but a little over a month ago I couldn’t do any of this. Now, I’m a yoga teacher.

Jai Bhagwan!

Sovereign Hands Yoga: The Thank You Series
@ Freebrook Spaces in Association with Hip Dhamma
375 Stuyvesant Avenue b/w Decatur & Bainbridge Sts.
Brooklyn, NY
Sunday December, 16th (Last Class of Series)
[If you have a mat please bring it with you. If not, there are a few mats for use.]
By Train: A/C to Utica Avenue

Contact, More info & Talk to Me
Twitter @sovereignhands

Check out Hip Dhamma Too!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Thank You Series ~ Class 1

I went to bed late on Saturday and got up early on Sunday. Class wasn't until 11am, but I was probably up at about 7:30am after going to bed at about 1:45am. I was nervous. Although yoga teacher training wasn't that long ago, sometimes it feels like eons. My folks in my YTT sangha have moved on and although we keep in touch on Facebook it's surely not the same as waking up to their faces daily. I'm still adjusting.

Sunday morning I got up and went through my whole class by myself. I went through the whole hour and change in hope of being clearer with whomever was going to show up that day. I had no idea and no expectations. I'm working hard not to bring my same thought patterns to the yoga side of my life that I sometimes bring to music side, which is, everyone says yes and then no one shows up. I know that sounds strange so say if you have been to one of my shows because people do show up. They show up all the time, but I have to admit the fear that sits down under the surface that no one will show. But today I knew that one person would show and that was Rachel from Hip Dhamma. We had been talking about me coming on teach at the studio. So she was coming so I could "audition." No pressure. Right!!

As it got closer to the time to head to Freebrook Spaces where my classes are being held I did my best to calm down. I had no idea what I was going to walk in to. I mean of course I had some idea, but this was really new territory. I kept thinking about what my teacher Devarshi would say, "If your heart is pounding then you must raise your hand and say something." My heart was surely pounding and teaching the class was like raising my hand. I was saying yes.

One of the best things about teaching at Freebrook is that it's right near my house so I can walk there. It was such a great feeling to be able to take that walk and have a moment to meditate and settle down a bit before I got there. I realized on my walk that I forgot a couple of things like sage to clear the space and my comp list. As you know, these are my Thank You classes. So some folks are getting class for free, some for $5 and anyone else who just drops in it's $10. It's ok. Breathe Shelley. No worries.

When I arrived at the school (Freebrook is a school during the week) DeeArah, who helped me book the space, was there cleaning up a bit. Let me tell you a bit about Freebrook. It was once somebody’s mansion so the place is huge and grand. They actually filmed Boardwalk Empire there a couple of times. Surely there are still some spirits up in there. As you enter the front door and walk into the foyer it is all dark wood; the walls, floors and the staircase. There are two big rooms on the ground floor and also a kitchen and some other smaller rooms. Then on the second floor there are more rooms, nooks and crannies that I have yet to explore. My class is in one of the smaller rooms at the top of right staircase. Yes the staircase splits in two. I told you it was majestic.

I really like the room on the second floor. There is lots of sun and it’s cozy. DeeArah gave me the lay of the land a bit and then I tried to get myself situated.

 Soon Rachel arrived. She is one of the women who run Hip Dhamma, the yoga studio that usually runs out of Freebrook. She was kind enough to let me use her props for class, which was a blessing. I can see that the Hip Dhamma crew are really about community building and I love that it is through movement. Luckily when she came she had some sage with her so I was able to smudge the room. We talked for a while and then she went to take care of some other business before class.

I had a feeling that it might just be Rachel and I that day, but just before class was about to begin my friend Calia showed up. Yeah! I was more than ready to teach one, but two was great! I showed Calia upstairs and then we began pretty much right away. I wasn’t sure what happened to Rachel, but she showed up right after the sound of OM.

Did I say I was nervous? I know I was in my head a lot in class. There were things that I should have said before taking people into certain postures and I talked about a couple of contraindications after we had already done a pose, which doesn’t help at that point, but I know the nerves will wear off after a while. I’m still getting my feet on the ground after all.

For this first week of the series since it is on giving thanks, I asked the class to focus on their breath and give thanks for the in breath and out breath. In short, give thanks for every moment. As I moved through teaching my first class outside of school I really missed the faces of my sangha. We got so much reinforcement from each other while in school, but out here you never know what you will get. Well, I was moving along quite nicely when I looked at the time and realized that I still had a lot left and I had done everything I planned! OK, time to think on my toes. I had to go through my mental Rolodex of asanas and pull something out of the sky. Of course it all worked out and as my YTT crew would say, nobody died. LOL!

I guess I did well at my audition because I got a call back to teach at Hip Dhamma and Calia said she had a great time and really enjoyed the breath work. I think the breath is most important in yoga. A lot of studios don’t focus on that a lot, but you can’t do anything if you don’t have your breath and we take it for granted daily, really almost every moment. Remember your breath. If you think about it, it’s really what’s holding you together.

After class I chatted with DeeArah for a bit and talked some about my future classes. I made $10 that day. I decided in the spirit of it being Sunday and in the spirit of really taking this on as a business I paid myself first aka I made a tithe to myself. I put $1 or 10% of my earnings in my savings account. I know it may not seem like much, but how often do we not take care of ourselves first especially on the financial front.

I should have taken photo of Rachel, Calia and I, but I was totally buzzing. I will have a photo of the next folks to come to class, which is this Sunday at 11am. I hope to see some of you there.

My yoga practice has taught me so much, but I am still walking hard with my niyama of Ishvar-Pranidhana. Surrender. Surrender to what the Universe has for me. Be open and say yes. Thank you all so much for saying yes to me.

Jai Bhagwan!

Sovereign Hands Yoga: The Thank You Series 
@ Freebrook Spaces 
375 Stuyvesant Avenue b/w Decatur & Bainbridge Sts.
Brooklyn, NY
Sundays Dec. 9th & 16th 
[If you have a mat please bring it with you. If not, there are a few mats for use.]
By Train: A/C to Utica Avenue

Contact, More info & Talk to Me 
Twitter @sovereignhands
Check out Hip Dhamma Too!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sovereign Hands Yoga: The Thank You Series! (Dec. 2nd, 9th & 16th)

Hi Everyone,

I know it's been a minute since I posted a blog. A girl needed to catch a break and get my feet back on the ground, and on the New York grind.  It's great to be home, but the City does bring it's share of challenges for sure. But as a young man once known as Puff Daddy once said, "You can't stop the shining!"

With that in mind let the yoga begin! I am teaching the Thank You Series beginning tomorrow, December 2nd at 11am, and for the next two Sundays going forward.  I am so thankful to you all for the support through this process and it's just beginning.  I'll be blogging for sure throughout the series and I hope to see your face in one or all three of the classes and remember to Give Thanks!

Jai Bhagwan!

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, Thank You, that would suffice." Meister Eckhart

Sovereign Hands Yoga: The Thank You Series!
@ Freebrook Spaces
375 Stuyvesant Avenue b/w Decatur & Bainbridge Sts.
Brooklyn, NY
Sundays Dec. 2nd, 9th & 16th
[If you have a mat please bring it with you. If not, there are a few mats there for use.]
By Train: A/C to Utica Avenue

Contact, More info & Talk to Me:
Twitter @sovereignhands

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ Week 4/E.S.R.I.T.

To say that the last week of school was hectic would be an understatement.  As I think back on that week I can't believe the range of emotions that my classmates and I went through.  The last Sunday-Friday was packed with so much that it nearly broke folks.  Well, I say that loosely, but it was intense.

We started the week last Sunday with posture clinic where we learned some of the last postures in our manual and gathering information about the final written exam, which was the next day.   All along we were given practice tests that corresponded with what we were learning each week and we were assured that we had all the info we needed to pass the test and pass it well.  I have to admit that I wasn't too worried about it, but some folks had lots of anxiety.  So it was challenging to be in that vibe.  To say that Sunday was tense around the place is an understatement.

After a full days work, we were given the last section of the day to study.  I didn't push too hard because I knew I would pass. I know that might sound like my ego talking, but I really believed that they had set us up to win. Also, I leaned on my nyama Ishvar-Pranidhana (Surrender) as I went into the test. That doesn't mean I didn't study, it just meant that I did all I could and I was leaving the rest to the Creator.

On Monday after morning Sadhana and breakfast, we took our written exam.  I felt really good about it. I knew that I probably got a few wrong, but I was not going to beat myself up about it.  After all the tests were turned in, there was no time to think about how we did as we were right back in posture clinic getting ready for our third practice teach, which was the next day.  No rest for the weary.  On the upside, when we came back from lunch we found out that we all passed the test!  Yeah!  On to the next challenge.

Practice Teach 3
As I told you before, I'm a crammer.  By Monday night I had written a few things and had a few ideas for my class sequence. On Sunday I found out that I was going last for my teach on Tuesday.  With this in mind I thought I would make the class gentle since it would be the last of the day for my group. At practice teach prep the staff gave us the information for what to expect the next day and then  let us go early to work on our teach.  Some folks stayed in the room together, but  I went to the sauna. I needed some head space to that I could put my plan together.  I sat in the sauna for a while and was able to put most of my plan together in my head. After the sauna, I headed to the sanctuary where I always studied and pulled my plan together.  I wrote it out, walked it through for myself, said a prayer and headed to bed.

Tuesday was big on so many levels. It was election day and practice teach 3.  I couldn't even think about the election until the day we done.  I was in a great auditam group for the third time around.  Peter, Laura, Ray and I really connected.  I was really excited to work with them and to be a support for them.

The day was long.  After supporting my group it was finally my turn to teach.  By that time I wasn't nervous; I was really just ready to go.  I centered myself, a passage was read to the whole class and then it was time to teach my first 1 hour class.  So how did I do?  I knocked it out of the park!  There were certain pranayams and postures that we were required to do and I got everything in.  There is so much to think about when teaching, but I just took a breath and let spirit take over. It was like nothing else. Well actually it was like singing.   I made it though with ease and I am so thankful. When I finished I thought I would have a feeling of relief that I was over, but I really just felt high like I was floating.  I am so looking forward to teaching again.  Susan, the staff member who worked with me during my last teach, gave me some great feedback and we even set goals for my next class, which will be back in New York.  I love that it feels like the mentoring continues. It was such a great day. Amazing!

Tuesday night was a reason to celebrate on so many fronts.  We passed our written exam, we all really rocked our last practice teaches and many of us we were hoping to re-elect a president.  So for the first time since I arrived there, I went out to a bar.  I didn't drink because I hadn't touched anything for nearly a month and election or no election we still had to be at sadhana at 6:30am.  We went to a cool spot in Lenox to watch the returns, but the funny thing is that folks started to head back to Kripalu about 9 or 9:30pm because that was our bed time.  At that time Romney was up a bit in the electoral vote and some folks were really worried. I, on the other hand, was not.

I have to tell you that I was never really worried. Maybe I should have been, but I really wasn't. I knew the president would be re-elected.  There was just something in my spirit that said yes.  At the time we left the bar, the west coast hadn't even come in. I knew that the whole left was going to light up blue. Yes there was the question of Ohio, but for some reason I didn't think that would be an issue either.

When we got back to Kripalu, I stayed up. I got on my computer and just checked the internet and jumped on facebook to keep up with what was going on. The only other folks that stayed up with me were Monica and DeAnna. Oh Ben and Brooke were up too, but they were in the dining room and we were in the cafe.  Monica, DeAnna and I were sitting and chatting when at about 11:45pm a woman came dancing down the hallway saying that Obama won!  What??!! So we logged on to CNN and there it was.  I also looked on facebook and everyone was in agreement. It was over and before midnight!!! I wanted to go wake up my roommates, well at least the ones who cared, to let them know, but I choose not to. They would know soon enough.  So then we waited for Romney to concede so that the president could speak. By the time the president re-elect spoke, Monica had called it a night because it was almost 2am. DeAnna and I knew we would be hurting the next day, but we had to see it.  I'm so glad I stayed up. I was hurting the next day for sure, but it was worth it.

My B'earthday
Wednesday thru Friday were a lot less physical, but a lot more emotional.  It was my b'earthday on Wednesday and Kripalu has a special b'earthday song that they sing for people on their day and it's a pretty cool song.  I got many a b'earthday greeting that day, folks sang happy birthday to me in the dining room out of the blue, which was sweet, and even got a gift. Oh, I actually got an early gift from my parents in the form of a massage, which I really needed.  I hadn't cried much over the four weeks during training. In fact I might have cried once and it was quick and done.  Well after Wednesday night the tears started to flow.  There was so much to be thankful for and the day of departure was getting closer. I was ready to go home, but I was starting to get really sad to leave these men and women who had become my family.  The tears just started coming and really didn't stop until Friday afternoon.

Thursday was our final posture clinic, but it was really time for us to ask questions have a conversation with our teachers Devarshi and Megha.  When that conversation ended we sang our morning prayers and chanted our near final Om together and that just broke everyone. We had to laugh because the whole room was crying. What happened to us? LOL!

That night was our graduation celebration. We honored our teachers and ourselves that night. People had been asking me to sing all month and that night I got a chance to finally share. I was not the only person with musical talent by far.  Alicia R. played piano, Peter played guitar, harmonica and piano, Andrew played guitar and sang, Dana played Uke, Michael played guitar and sang, a little comedy and percussion from Barry, and Jill  played percussion as well.   Bonnie and Jill also play the Uke and Michelle playsDulcimer!  There were many beautiful voices in the crew included Jess, Lyneel, Eva, and many more. Oh and how could I forget Alex who put together a slideshow of our month.   Our teachers cried tears of joy and seemed to have an overall good time.  We gave them massages and sang lots of Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.   It was a beautiful night.

Friday was graduation.  Temple Sadhana in the morning was wonderful and the actual graduation was beautiful.  There continued to be tears and feelings of great joy. I kept thinking about all of you who supported me on this journey. I could not have done it without your spiritual and monetary support.  I am so blessed and I realize that even more now.

As we prepared to leave on Friday afternoon I said my farewells to the people who had been my family all month. Sixty-two people who I thought I would never really get to know, but by the end I knew them all.  It's still hard to believe.  I have a brand new community and new friends all over the world.  From Germany to Panama and Cali to Wisconsin and back to Massachusetts.  I have a brand new sangha and I am truly thankful.

Going Home
My classmate Odetta came back to my parents house with me.  We spent one more day together because she wasn't flying back to the UK until Sunday.  So she stayed with me and my family for one day. She actually ended up meeting my whole family in that day, grandparents too. Then on Saturday night I drove her to the airport and dropped off my soul sister. It was so crazy to say farewell to her. I thought all of my tears were done, but when we looked at each other the tears came back to my eyes and my heart felt like it was breaking.  She was my final physical connection to the last month.  As I pulled away, she blew kisses.  My mom laughed and I cried. I know my mother probably thought I was little crazy, but oh well.  That's just the way I felt. I'm glad I will be seeing Odetta again when I head to Europe this winter.  :-)

I'm now at my parents house in MA and I'll head back to Brooklyn on Monday. It's back to rehearsal and shows and life as I knew it, but it will be different for sure.  It's back to finding a place to hold my classes and reconnecting with people that I left behind for a month. I'm ready to go back to New York and for some reason I feel like going swimming.  It's strange, but I must make that happen.  For all the yoga I did last month I don't think I lost a bit of weight because the food was so good! But I am stronger. I'm physically and spiritually stronger.  I gained so much through this experience. I wish I really had time to break it all down here, but you will see it. It will show.

The title of the blog is E.S.R.I.T., which stands for Enter, Sustain, Release, Integrate, Transition. This acronym is talking about getting in and out of postures, but to me it's a metaphor for my life right now.  I Entered into yoga school, I Sustained and held on through the process, I was Released on the day that I graduated, it is now time to Integrate what I have learned into my life and Transition into a new journey.  A life where I am doing exactly what I want to do every day of the week and living from what I love.

I am saying Yes to life and a big Hell Yeah to yoga!  I'm excited about the possibilities that lye ahead. I can't wait to continue to share my yoga adventures with you.  I love you all so much!  You rock!

Jai Bhagwan!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ Week 3/Exhausted

I'm exhausted.  Mentally, physically and emotionally, exhausted. Week 3 was a beast!  If you read my blog about Practice Teach 2 then you have an idea, but really I didn't get into the feeling of it all.  What I mean is this.

Weeks 1 and 2 I was tired, but still excited.  At that time my classmates and I were still in the thrill of it so to speak.  We are overloaded with information, but we just keep making it happen.  Then last Sunday hit and we were faced with another week  of the same and it became too much. For a while I just zoned out. Well as much as I possibly could in this situation and I was not alone.  Last week was the first time I heard talk of wanting to go home or folks who could go home for the weekend (which is one day for us) saying they didn't want to come back.  Of course they were going to come back, but it's a feeling.

I understood. I didn't so much want to leave, but I was missing my friends. I was missing familiarity and the people who just get you without having to say a word. People who aren't asking you if you're OK all the time. Yes I'm OK! Now leave me alone.  LOL!  In week three you get to the point where you are tired of crying. I'm so happy that my crying here has been minimal, but for some others it was a daily process.  I'm not saying that one way of being is better than another, but think back to what I said at the top. I think if I had been crying every day I would be under the bed right now. Crying is good. It's necessary, but it let's be honest; it can be exhausting.

There is so much to process here and folks have been going through it. I am included in that "folks," but the transformations and realizations here are deep.  If you think you are just gonna come here and learn some cool poses you are sorely mistaken.  Month long YTT is a pressure cooker and during week three some people did indeed pop, but all for the better.

During week 3 the winds of change were blowing.  Sandy was just one of the storms that passed over.  As I mentioned in my earlier blog, we lost Joe, we lost power and we damn near lost our minds, but I suppose it's all part of the process. I'm starting to think I like the pressure cooker. Hmm... What's that all about?  I'm not sure exactly where to begin when talking about last week.  A lot of it seems like a blur, so I'll just tune in to yesterday, which was our day of silence.

I have been doing the silent meditation retreat thing for quite some time. I went on my first silent retreat around 2004.  I remember it being a rough time in my life, when I learned about a People of Color (POC) silent retreat that was happening in Garrison, NY at the Garrison institute. My friend Gayle told me about it.  I immediately went home that day, bookmarked the site for the retreat on my computer to make sure I would be there the next time it came around.  So much sprouted out of that trip. I met some of the women who would then become my circle sisters at Casa Atabex Ache and I also found the silence is so much more than golden, it's a God/dess send.  Since then I have been on a couple more silent retreats and have began to meditate regularly. I was looking forward to the silence, but for some of my other classmates, the thought of silence was terrifying.  No texting, no email and no talking. What was going to happen?  I am an empath so I was feeling some of the anxiety in the room. It was thick.

Our teachers treated our day of silence like a retreat. So our morning Sadhana (yoga practice) was something called Inward Diving, which is basically some really deep pranayama or breath work. The class was led by a man named Micah and it was incredible. He had us doing a lot of deep breathing in various styles including Dirga (three part breath), kapalabhati (breath of fire, while alternating nostrils) and some other things that I can't remember the name of that were new to me. Talk about feeling the energy.  Usually I don't like to do so much pranayama in the morning because it's challenging to get into it, but I was all into this and loving it.  I later found out I wasn't alone.

After breakfast we did an OSHO meditation. I had done this before so I was ready, but many other people had not so it was a lot. If you are not sure who OSHO is, just give him a google and you can get all this info. Anyway, this meditation consists of 15 minutes of shaking, 15 minutes of dancing, 15 minutes of seated or standing mediation and 15 minutes of shavasana.  If you are not ready for this, it can be life altering.  This mediation reminds me of the emotional release work I did a Casa.  One of the things we would ask women to do when they felt something coming up was to shake and then at the end of the emotional release we would have the women dance.  Shaking is usually the most challenging part of the meditation.  We don't usually move our bodies like that or when we do it's because something really terrifying has happened.  So the first part of this meditation can be very intense for some.  Then after 15 minutes you move to the dancing.  My teacher was playing something really tribal so I just went in.  It was great!  That part always seems to go fast because I'm all in it.  Then we did the 15 minutes mediation. We could either do it standing or sitting so I chose standing.  I was dripping with sweat, but it didn't bother me a bit. Then we laid down for shavasana.  I have been fighting off a cough for the last week as well.  It has been getting me up from shavasana at least once or twice a day.  I was hoping to make it through this one, but I did cough a couple of times. Then I was able to settle in.  After that I was beat.  I went to lunch and then took a nap to get ready for the end of the day.

When we returned for the last half of the day, we spent the first hour outside doing any sort of mediation that we wanted. Some people went to the lake, others to the labyrinth and my group went to Swami Kripalu's meditation garden.  I have to say there that here is a strange bust of the Swami in the mediation garden, which I wasn't expecting to see.  Although it was his garden I didn't really expect to see him there. LOL!  Anyway, it was a nice space and has a great view of the lake from there.  So I spoke to my ancestors for a while and then we returned to the center.  For our final activity of the day we had to hold bridge pose...for a while.  The exercise was about finding our edge and edges were surely found. But what I realized is that I'm always living life on the edge, which can be good when it comes to taking risks and leaps of faith. I don't ever want to be rid of that in my spirit, but I would like life to be a little less on the edge in some aspects of my life. So that's what I got out of it. I know how to go to the edge, but maybe a little stability would be good. Very good. I'm not coming back from here and looking for a full-time desk job or anything like that, but I am going to work to shape my life to be the way I want it and have all aspects of my life working for me.  It can be a challenge to be yourself and really step into your authenticity, but I'm going to keep stepping. I've gotten this far, I know I can make it even brighter.

The last thing we had to do before breaking silence was find someone near us, look them in their eyes very close up and then give them a hug...for 6 minutes.  Now, coming from the artsy, hugging and kissing community that I come from, this was no big deal, but for some it was life altering.  The woman I hugged broke down afterward because she was so scared of the eye contact and the hug because she didn't think that she was lovable and she could feel that I really loved her when I hugged her and in that moment she realized that she really deserved to be loved.  POW!!!  It was deep for sure.  I know I have had some hard days, weeks, months even, but I have never felt unloved or not lovable.  Did I say it was deep?  Well, it was deep.  It made me even more thankful for my life and the people in it.

Then about 5pm we broke silence and some of my classmates spoke about their experience.  Besides the one mentioned above, others had found a new sense of self or at least realized it in the silence.  I had a few revelations myself, but that is one of the reasons why I came here. Another thing I realized is that Music is my Yoga.  Don't worry, I'm still going to teach, but yoga is more than just postures.  Yoga is really the breath and I'm breathing when I'm making music.

Week three is done and tomorrow begins my last week here.  As much as I'm ready to go home, I'm gonna miss this place and these people.  In some ways they have become my family. We are the only ones who will understand what happened here. Yes there have been other Yoga Teacher Training classes before us and there are many to come, but I know that no two groups are alike.  I'm so glad I went through this process with these people.

OK, I'm signing off.  I had studying to do, but there is also an acro-yoga workshop going on. What to do?  Thank you so much again for all your support.

Jai Bahgwan!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ Practice Teach 2/Man Down

Well it's been quite and week and it ain't over yet.  Before I get into what happened the night and day of Practice Teach 2 I'll explain the "Man Down" part of my title.

Two weeks into the program, which is the half way point, Joe one of my classmates, dropped out of the program. I was really shocked, but he was struggling with his health since he arrived here. In fact he went to the hospital due to dehydration in the early days of the program, but that being said I still didn't think he would drop out.  That really threw me. I know how much it takes for people to get here and it kind of broke my heart. I know if something happened and I had to leave it would be devastating considering all the work I had put in for two weeks and all the support that you all have given me along the way.  So we had to say so long to Joe. Actually I didn't even get to say goodbye.  One night he was there and the next night he was gone.  He was a good guy I wish him well.  So that actually makes two of our classmates that have left the program either on their own (Joe) or due to circumstances beyond their control (Scott).  The man count keeps going down in our class. So as of now, the last men standing are Barry, Troy, Peter, Andrew, Ben, Alex and Michael. Stay strong guys!

Moving on to brighter notes, I had an awesome Practice Teach 2!  Of course there is always room for improvement, but it was pretty amazing.  But before all that was the Hurricane Sandy watch.  We were also on alert here in the Berkshires, and it did hit us for sure.  It was nothing like NYC, NJ or CT, but she still came through.

Sandy hit the night before the practice teach. I was having a crappy day and everyone kept asking me if I was ok. They said I looked sad and thought I was worried about folks in NY. Honestly I thought my people would be OK and I was really PMSing and needed some space that day. LOL.  I love these folks, but after living together for almost a month I can't wait to get back into my own bed and not have to carry my toiletries to the bathroom. I know you feel me.

As I had mentioned before, I am a crammer. So on Monday night I took my spot in the Kripalu sanctuary and began to put together my practice teach. As I mentioned before, it's not that I don't have any idea what I'm going to do, but I let things swirl around in my head for a while before I put them on paper and Monday was no exception. I also sometimes like to go back to my room after everyone has gone to sleep so that night I stayed out until about 12:30am.  By the time I was on my way to bed Sandy was in full swing.  In the sanctuary you could hardly see the rain or hear the wind, but when I went upstairs to the forth floor on the other side of the building, the wind and rain were raging.  It felt like the windows could blow. Now that was scary!  So I quickly headed back downstairs to go to bed.

Now, we never lock the door in the room where I stay because there are 22 women in the room.  Did I mention that before?  With that in mind there are so many people coming and going at all times that there is no need to lock the door.  Well that night I got locked out.  Only briefly, but still I couldn't believe it. I know exactly what happened, but of course I was caught out there with no key.  So I had to knock on the door to have someone get up and let me in the night before the teach!  I really felt bad, but that, but folks understood.

Then I was getting ready to get in bed and had taken my pants off, when my roommate Alicia taps me on the shoulder and tells me there is water leaking on her from above the bed. Seriously??  OK.  So I ask her what she wants to do and she says she's going to the front desk to let them know and see if she can find another spot to stay in.  I waited for her to come back and she said they gave her another room to sleep in for the night.  Cool!  I'm about to get back in back, when there is knock at the door and three maintenance guys come marching in and I'm in my drawers!  They head strait to were the leak is, which gave me a minute to duck out of sight and put some pants on (damn!) and then I went and spoke to Alicia.  I asked her  if she wanted me to come sleep with her in the new spot and she was kind of hemming and hawing, which meant yes to me (and it did) so I went to sleep with her in the other room. We get to the new spot, set the alarm, turn on the ceiling fan because the new room is stuffy and hot and then head to sleep.

Now it's about 1:30am or so. Maybe later.  I finally get to sleep and then wake up again at about 3:30am. Strange bed and all. I look up at the ceiling fan and it's moving slower, but I thought that maybe Alicia got up to turn it down. So I went back to sleep.  Next I wake up at 5:45am. When I look up the fan has stopped and the clock is out, and I knew what was next.  No power.  So Alicia and I decided to get up and go back to the other room since we had to be up soon anyway.  When we opened the door to the room the emergency hallway lights were on.  Damn!  No electricity. We were told that the generators would come on, but that was clearly not happening at that point.  So Alicia and I walked back to the room and were trying to decide if we should wake people up because a lot of folks were using the room clock to wake up, which would clearly be out.  Turns out most of them knew that the power was out and people were looking for me and Alicia.  Everyone had slept through all that commotion from the night before.  Crazy.  Now we are all preparing for our practice teach in the dark or semi-dark. The building provided lanterns in the hallways and also some of the emergency lights were.  It was quite a scene.

Practice Teach 2
I went first in class to do my teach. I was actually glad about it because then I would have the whole rest of the day off. I would just be doing yoga for the rest of the day as a student in the class for the rest of my group.  By the time we were ready to start the generator power was on so we had lights.

I started my teach and everything was going really well. This time around I had to teach Virabhadrasana Eka (Warrior 1) and guide Virabhadrasana Dwi (Warrior 2), Kapalabhati breath (breath of fire) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) with the sanskrit names, plus two more postures.  I felt way more comfortable this time, which makes sense. I feel that my personality came through in this teach. I think the thing that really impressed me was that during my teach, the lights went out again, but I was so in the zone that I didn't even flinch. I remember it happening and I just kept it moving.  There was light coming in from the windows so it was no sweat.  I stayed so deep in the zone that the lights came back on and I didn't even notice.  It was a lot of fun. Nerve racking, but fun!

So Practice Teach 2 is done! We are already talking about 3.  I can't believe we are over half way done with this process.  What a journey and it ain't over yet.  I'm going to wrap this up, but don't forget there is still time to give. I'm just gonna keep going till they kick me out next week. LOL!  Thank you all so much!  What a blessing!

Well folks, it's 11:08 and well past my bed time. I just wanted to give you a little something to get you through.  Next week is the election. PLEASE VOTE!!! That's all I'm gonna say!  Thank you again so much and I'll be back with you shortly!  Thank you again!!!

Jai Bahgwan!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ Week 2!

I can't believe week 2 is over. I am half way thought this process!  Sometimes the weeks feel so long and it seems like Saturday is never going to come. The thing is, I'm in no rush for it to be over, but I, and I would dare say my whole class, feel like we are working for the weekend. LOL.  The thing is we don't get a whole weekend.  We get Friday night after 6pm and Saturday off and Tuesday after practice teach. So here I am in the small town of Lenox, MA once again, drinking a chai latte and breaking it all down for you. This blog could be really log, but I'm going to do my best not to make it too crazy.

This time around I'm going to start with the animals. I don't know how I kept forgetting to talk about them.  First, there is a rabbit that lives on the premises and he or she comes out all the time and eats lunch with us when we sit outside. We, eating our kale and the rabbit eating the nearby plants.   It's very sweet and the rabbit seems not to be phased by us at all.  Then last week when I was walking home from Lenox I saw a deer eating off of a tree at Tanglewood.  That was an amazing site because it was so close to me.  Really beautiful.  Then for the final and most strange animal encounter.  One day I was in my room with a few of my other roommates, trying to take a nap. All of a sudden we heard this loud tapping and looked out the window and there was this HUGE crow tapping on the window with its beak.  When we walked closer to the window it seemed to fly off, but then it came back and tapped away for a while.  It was like he was trying to get someones attention. So I jokingly said, who has got the crow as an animal totem in here and it turned out that my roommate Suzane actually has a crow as her animal totem!  So I think he came to see if she was home so they could talk. LOL.  Honestly I don't know, but I do know that it was amazing to see, but a little too close to Alfred Hitchcock for me. LOL!

Last night for our evening yoga class we had a guest teacher named Jay.  He's a real athletic looking guy so we knew this class was going to be kick-ass for sure and he told us so in so many words.   But he was a really great teacher and even though he was making us work, he was making sure we had a lot of fun falling down.  After dinner he taught an arm-balancing class, which was great.  I have a special shoulder so I'm always curious as to how far I can go with it. Well last night I did a forearm stand on my own! Well for about 2.9 seconds, but I was up there!  Hey, you have to start somewhere.  We also worked on handstand, tripod headstand, crow, side crow, scorpion (which will be another lifetime to get into for most of us) and a few other poses that kicked my butt.  But we had so much fun trying that it was an amazing class.  It was one of our optional classes, but I'm so glad I took my time out to go. Now I have some idea of how to teach and assist people in arm balances.  There is still so much to learn, but I'm so glad a have a bit of a foundation in that area. I'm going to get his DVD and keep working on my core.  Yeah arm balances!

Well kids, Practice Teach 2 is coming up. Feels like we just did the first one and here we are again.  So this time we have to teach for 45 minutes and we must include Warriors 1 & 2 and Nadi Shodhana  and Kaplabhati pranayama (breath). Just to give myself a little test, I'll tell you that the sanskrit for warriors 1 and 2 is Virabhadrasana Eka and Dwi.  As far as the breath, Nadi Shodhana is alternate nostril breathing and Kapalabhati, which is known in some circles as the breath of fire, is where you breath with a rapid inhale and a passive exhale through the nose. It's also called skull polishing breath because it helps to clear the mind.  Not bad for not book in front of me.  I will admit I had to look up a couple spellings, but I'll be speaking it way more than writing it so I feel good about that!  As I said in my last blog, I'm a crammer.  I think about what I want to do for some time before it actually hits the page or the stage. So that will probably happen again for this teach as well.  On Monday night I'll be getting it all together and I'll report back on Tuesday night. :-D

So I'll leave you on this fine Saturday with this.  I'm not sure if I said this before, but here in school we are also learning the Yamas and Niyamas (I'll break them down for you later.). Anyway, I picked the Niyama of Ishvar-Pranidhana (surrender, opening to the Universe) to practice for the month and beyond. Surrender can be really challenging for me and I'm sure many of us. Especially living in New York, when waiting for anything is hard for us to fathom.  So I am working on both surrender and opening. This niyama really much to my yoga practice on the mat as well. If I can't find surrender in the poses and I'm always tight or holding then I will not be able to open to all the benefits and gifts that are inside the postures.  So, surrender.  I'm trying not to think too hard out here. It can make you mad and I don't mean angry. LOL.   Just trying to sit with what I've got and always have gratitude. Surrender and be open to receive.

Thanks so much for continuing to share this journey with me.  Remember we have almost reached out goal! Thank you for all who have donated and those whose donations are still to come.  Have a wonderful week and I'll check in on Tuesday night!

Jai Bhagwan!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ Practice Teach One!

Today was a really big day.  Lots of stress going around the place, which is exactly the opposite of what Kripalu is about.  Kripalu is ALL about tranquility and good food and great views and all that jazz, but today was test day...so to speak.

After only a week and a day and after learning in lots of Sanskrit names of postures, press points, proper yoga language, etc., it was now time to put all of our knowledge to the test and actually teach for 30 minutes.  

How it works here is that we are split up into groups of three or four and we have to teach to our groups. Just to add on the pressure; our teachers and class assistants would randomly jump into our group while we are teaching to join in and evaluate!  OK. Breathe. LOL.  

Of course you have to remember that this is Kripalu after all. So in our first teach there is nothing, but positive feedback, but that didn't stop me from stressing a little bit. 

As I prepared last night for the teach today I was reminded of my college days and that fact that I am a crammer.  I mean it's really nothing new. I worked on my class outline last night for the practice teach today.  I had it all in my head or most of it, but I just couldn't get it down until last night.   That's how I write articles and even deliver songs.  I don't like a process to be too long and drawn out. Where some people will wait until a song is perfect to put it out, I'm like, let's put it out and see how it goes and then we can tweak.  You can't quite do exactly that here, but the one thing our teachers did say was that today would be messy and not perfect and if it was perfect then we would fail. LOL! That was a joke of course, but the point was for us to have fun and know that if it wasn't perfect that's OK and we would have a chance to do it again.  

I think for me one of the things that made me nervous was mirroring. Every time I got to yoga class I'm in awe of the teachers who can mirror the class.  In other words their left is right and right is left. The other thing that amazes me is when teachers can teach a whole posture while talking. That has always been incredible to me. Well today I did both!  I mirrored and I demoed and talked at the same time!  

Surely everything was not perfect today. I switched the order of my plan by accident, but I quickly learned that it was OK because the class/group didn't know what my plan was so they didn't know anything was out of order.  Yes!  I also did something today that I am really the most proud of. When I messed up or realized I was out of sequence, I didn't beat myself up about it. Yes I'm human folks. I do have negative self talk just like you, but today I told my negative talking self to take a hike!  I did a great job and yes I'm saying it myself.  :-)  

I was the last to go in my group today, which was kind of tough actually.  Yes I had the benefit of watching everyone else and taking some mental notes, but after the first person went I just wanted to go and get it over with.  Que Sera...  My time was my time and it was right on time.  

There were lots of tears and revelations today for my classmates, and I was not exempt in that department.  I came here saying that I wanted to teach, but having no idea if I actually could. I kept thinking of all my teachers along the way and drew from so many of them.  I got to give Reiki to my students in shavasana, which I have ALWAYS wanted to do and as I heard myself guiding the class into tadasasna, I could hear the voices of the many teachers along the way who told me in class to tuck my tailbone and lift up through the crown of my head to elongate my spine.  Now I am sharing that and it's amazing!   

Today I learned that I am a teacher.  I can do this damn thing and that is exactly what I said to my class today after our teach. I was sweating after it was all over. I could feel it dripping down my back.  The nerves were that for sure, but I'm ready.  Today's class was 30 minutes and the next will be 45 minutes. Now it seems like no sweat. Bring on the hour class!  

There is still so much to learn. I know we will be getting lots of feedback from out teachers in the days to come, but one big hurdle has been jumped.  I am shocked daily by the amount of information that we are asked to retain and the fact that it's actually, really and truly in there.  In our brains that is.   

One of my classmates is a pianist, another plays piano, guitar and harmonica and then there is me. So tonight we shared our victory together with some of our other classmates around the piano in the main hall. We listened, made up songs and I even sang a couple of my own.  It was the perfect ending to an amazing day. Every day should begin with yoga and end with music or a combination of the two.  

As I watch the leaves fall right before my eyes and that landscape that was all reds, yellows and browns, turn to gray as some remain evergreen, I am so thankful.  Thank you all again so much for your love and support.  So many goals have been reached and there are even more to come.  We have almost reached the fundraising goad. We are so close. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You! 

Goodnight and Jai Bahgwan!

BTW-Sorry I haven't had more pictures for you. My camera on my phone has been acting special out here since that first day. Gonna try and work it out for you soon.  :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training ~ One Week Down!

I have finished my first week of yoga school!  I can't believe it's been a week already because the days feel very long here. We are up and in class every day at 6:30am. We are not in yoga class at people think of it, all day long, but we are indeed doing yoga all day long.

I feel like I have so much to share and no time to share it.  When the end of the day comes I'm often too tired to think about blogging or there is other work to be done. But I will take the time to share a bit.

I am staying in a dorm with about 25 other women. I know that seems like a lot, but since we are all on the same schedule one would have to be way out of pocket to really step on anyone's toes. We are very mindful of the schedule.  As I said the days are long. Classes begin at 6:30am and most days end at 9pm. So if you can sleep, you would want to go to bed at 10pm. I say if you can sleep because I and some of the other folks had trouble sleeping at first.

There are about 65 of us taking the training from all over the world.  There are folks here from Germany and the UK as well as California, Wisconsin, Ohio and of course all over the east coast. It never fails that when I'm in a group of new people I will always find a person or two who remind me of people I already know.  There is also several generations of people in the training. We are ages 18-67!  There are a few men in the class; about 6 to be exact and I thought I was the only African-American women in my class, which honestly I wouldn't have been surprised about. But then I learned that one of my classmates who I thought was Latina is actual mixed (mother German, father black).  There are a few other people of color in the class. A woman from Panama, one from Mexico, one from Korea and one of our teachers is from Singapore.  I am so inspired by everyone in class for very different reasons.

I am on information overload, which was to be expected.  I am not really nervous about the written test we have take at the end, but next week is our first practice teach. Although I have been practicing yoga for 10 years there is so much to remember when actually teaching a class. The thing I have always been fascinated about most when in yoga class at home is how the teachers can get into postures and talk at the same time!  We are doing that here too and I wonder how that is going to be for me. Also the mirroring thing (left is right and right is left) has me a little shook.  LOL!  But I'm working on it.

I walked this morning with a couple of women from my training to the small town of Lenox, MA. It's an amazing fall day. To me, there is no better place to be in the fall then New England. I might be a little bias being from MA, but it brings back a lot of memories.  They went on to explore the town and I'm here in a little coffee shop getting my homework (meaning this blog) done.  Is it 65 degrees here and just an amazing day. The weather since I arrived has been some of the best fall weather I've felt in ages.  I really love small towns.  I'm the kind of person who either needs city or country. That in between thing just doesn't do it for me. So Lenox looks like heaven. It's easy to see why James Taylor and Carly Simon lived in Stockbridge, which is the next town over.  I am really happy. I can't explain it, but it all feels so good.

Thank you so much for all of your continued support. I have almost reached my fundraising goal.  I am $245 away!  Thank You! Thank You! If you didn't get to read about my first day of yoga school please take am moment to ready the blog below.

I will leave you with this saying from Swami Kripau who the center is named after. This really resonated with me as it reminds me of "Right Speech," which one part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path.

"Before speaking, consider whether it is an improvement upon silence." ~ Swami Kripalu


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training~ Day 1: Thankful

I'm Here!!

Hey Everyone! I know I didn't officially finish my countdown to school.  The last couple of days have been jammed with things to do.  Packing, admin work, putting together surprises for you.  They didn't all  quite come together in the time I wanted them to, but trust me, everything is on time. So look out for a great surprise coming soon.

I want to say Thank You again to everyone who supported me on this journey monetarily and spiritually. I can feel your love.  I know I'm going to have a life changing experience here.

So just a little about the journey.  I am so thankful to my girl Vilma for driving me up.  I was really dreading the thought of getting on public transportation with a months worth of stuff. That was not looking sexy at all.  So Vil came through and this morning we left Brooklyn for Lenox, MA.  I have never been away from NY this long. I came close in 2003 when I went to Italy for three weeks, but this feels very different.

The drive here was amazing. The foliage is in full effect and just getting better. We got a little turned around, but what a drive to be turned around on.  The houses, the cows and horses we saw along the way just accented the colors of the trees. I love this time of year. It's my time.  I am a fall baby after all.

Kripalu is right next door to Tanglewood. For those of you unfamiliar with this area, Tanglewood is where the Boston Pops play during the summertime as well as on the esplanade in Cambridge.  Tanglewood also hosts a bunch of non-classical shows like that of James Taylor.  It's a really amazing place that I used to visit quite a lot with my family as a kid.  This is truly one of the most beautiful places in the country.

When Vilma and I finally got here my mom was here to greet us! I checked in and went to my room. Well I can't really say it's my room, I share a space with 20, yes 20 other women.  Privacy is not something I will be getting here this month. But I'm not worried. I 'm just channeling my old Ohio State days of 16 in a suite.

The room is big, there are a lot of us, but I am grateful to be here for sure.  I dropped my things off and then we headed to the cafe and then outside to take in the view.  Amazing!  This place is overlooking the mountains and there is a lake. It's crazy beautiful.  Soon it was time for dinner and I was starving. I hadn't really eaten all day. I'm so happy to know that this is going to change. There is food, food, food and everyone I talked to was right about it.  The food is killin'!  I've only had one meal so far and I was floored already.  So don't be surprised if I'm blogging about food a lot. LOL!

I had to hurry back to the room, change and get ready for my first class.  I said my farewells to Vilma and my mom and quickly headed to class.  The first class was really a welcome.  Everyone getting to know each other.  I am the only black person in the class, but I have to admit that I expected that.  There are a few other people of color, but I am the lone African-American representative.  I have lots of thoughts about that, but no need to belabor the point. At least not at this time.

It was a great night. I should be in bed now. My saving grace is that we don't have 6:30am yoga tomorrow. We start at 9am instead.  So here I am getting this out to you and I am so happy to be sharing.

I will give you more details as well go along, but for now I say once again, Thank You!  Some of you have asked if there is still time to donate toward my fundraiser and the answer is yes. I will be fundraising till I reach my goal. You all rock so hard!  Sending you lots of love. Let the transformation begin.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 5, 4 & 3

I can't believe I'm 3 days away from school. Where did the time go? These things always sneak up on you and then the rush is on.  I'm trying not to be in a panic about what's left to do, but I can feel it in my shoulders already; the stress that is.  Time to breathe.

As you can see I haven't posted anything since Tuesday. I did make it to class that day and itt was my last class with Keri for a while. Tuesday was a Basics class and I had a great time in class as usual. But I have to admit that so much has been going on that I can't even remember what we did in class that day. LOL!

I chatted with Keri for a while when class ended and she gave me her card so I could call from school if I needed to. I thought that was sweet, but it's also because she knows I will need to talk to someone who knows what in the world is going on out there. LOL!  She has given me some good advice since learning that I am going to school. I'm so thankful for that.

I didn't go to class on Wednesday. I knew that was going to be the case. I had so many errands to run and I had to go visit a friend. I'm working on band stuff as well so there is just so much churning around.  I am in deep admin mode, but I didn't want to forget about you all.

Today was my last day working at Area for a while and lots happened today. I went in kind of cranky because none of the rental mats were clean. Although it is part of my job to clean them, usually at least one or two are clean before I get there.  But after all that I talked to one of the yoga teachers there, Danielle, and she wants me to play at her Midnight Yoga class in December at Laughing Lotus, which is going to be amazing. I will surely let you all know about that and then I found out that one of my other teachers, Elias, is going to be at Kripalu the same time I'm there.  How about that!  The world gets smaller and smaller. He won't be part of my training, but who knows, I may see him.

I also got to talk for a while to one of the other attendants at Area that I don't usually get to chat with. So all in all it was a great day.  I ran a few more errands and came home.  I have been on the computer and here I will remain until I can get a break to go dancing. Yes dancing! I'm going to get as much in as I can before I got.

Thank you all so much for donating to the fundraiser for school. We are still in the zone and have almost reached out goal! We are so close. Please help take us over the top.  If you have wanted to donate you still have time.  It would be such a blessing. Thank You. Thank You.

Have a great night every one! More tomorrow. Namaste.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 6

I can't believe that school is only 6 days away.  This time just few by.  So much had happened leading up to my departure and it keeps going. I see I'll be in full admin mode for the music and the yoga until I walk about the door.I am hoping to have complete peace while in MA.  I am hoping to only check email on Sundays. That is the plan anyway, be we'll see how long it takes for me to shut my brain off of admin mode.

I have a big show with the band on November 16th. That is basically a week after I get back from school. I know I must be a little crazy, but I'm doing it.  That's just the way my life is and I guess I like it that way because I keep doing it. LOL! Well we'll see what my body and brain say during and after training.

Anyway, let me get back to today. I wanted to go to the 8:15am class with Keri, but I saw that it was not on the schedule anymore. I guess I'm not surprised because the last two times I went, I was the only one in class.  So I went to the later class at 12:30pm with Julie. I have taken her class before, but today it felt like it was moving really fast.  I'm not complaining, but that's just how I was feeling in it.  I can feel my body slowly getting used to the amount of yoga I have been doing. My shoulder doesn't hurt as much, which is amazing. The pain is not totally gone, but I am hopefully that one day I won't feel it at all or barely.

I only have 5 more yoga classes in Brooklyn until I'm on the yoga marathon.  It may actually be less because I have a bunch of things to get done before I go.  As I said, I'm in admin mode in a major way, but I am thankful for it all.

I am leaving on Sunday and we are 78% funded.  I know that we can push this over the top. Please if you can donate or spread the word I would be so thankful.  The amount left is $785, which is not much. I know we can do this in a week. I know we can!

Thank you so much!  Until tomorrow.


Countdown to Yoga School ~ Days 9, 8 & 7

Don't worry. I'm not going to give you a huge blog about three days of yoga. One reason is because I wasn't doing yoga for two of the three days. Yes, I fell off the wagon a bit, but it was for a good reason.  Without getting too personal I'll tell you that Friday was a slow moving day for me.  I was on my way to yoga at least two times and both were failed attempts.  But in my defense, Katie and I did have a show that night.

Friday was the yoga school fundraiser show so there was a lot on my plate. I was supposed to meet Katie at 6pm, but between the traffic she hit coming into the City from Nyack and the fact that I was slow moving, I probably didn't get to the Masonic Temple till 7pm.

When I arrived, Ray who I'm sure is a mason, was operating the elevator. Yes operating!  It was truly old school and amazing! Katie has a little rehearsal studio in the Temple, which is interesting in and of itself, but it's there.  We did a little cleaning of the space and dimmed the lights. Brought in some candles and gave it a little vibe and we were good to go.

It took us a while to get going, but once we did it was an amazing night. Katie and I played round robin style. So she played two songs and I played two and so on. I hadn't heard Katie sing live in a long time, but I tell you she is like no one else. I was blown away as usual.

After doing a few rounds and even singing "Landslide" with Chaney Sims, we knew we had to do it again and bigger and better! I really love Katie and he whole musical vibe.  It's just incredible.

On Saturday, I couldn't quite make it to yoga either. I had so many errands to run to get ready for my departure. There were still so many things that I needed for school. I needed a few more pairs of yoga pants, tops, boots, jacket, and the list goes on. So I needed to see what I could find on a budget.  Of course that took me to TJMaxx and Old Navy. Found some pretty good things at both and then headed back home to get ready for Nucomme's Betty Davis story event at the Brooklyn Museum.

So today was my first day back to yoga after missing a couple. It actually felt really amazing and a great class. Keri is now teaching the 10:40am class that my other teacher Keely used to do. I miss Keely, but Keri is awesome too.  She really puts it together for me and I appreciate that.

I want to thank everyone who came out on Friday night.  You all made the night so special.  We are in the final fundraising stretch.  I can't believe that I'm leaving for school on the 14th. Time really does fly. So let's do this! Let's send me off with a bang.  We are over 76% there.  Let's take to to 100% or even more!

Thank you so much! Yoga, Healing & Music for all!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 10

I think I might have mentioned this early on, but I do Karmi work at Area Yoga so I can take class for free.  I work 4 hours per week and have unlimited yoga!  You can't beat that.

When I started last year I was working pretty regularly every Thursday. I would only switch days if I had a regular day gig for a bit or other travel opportunities came up.  But for the most part last year I was there on Thursday morning.

I would work the front desk checking people in and making sales and then at 12:30pm I would go to Slow Flow class with Elias.  Now Elias is is an awesome teacher with a thick Mexican accent. I remember in the early days of going to his class I would have to listen very hard to catch all the directions. It's interesting because sometimes he talks really fast, but because he repeats himself to make sure everyone got it.   Now that I've been taking his class for a while I'm right there with him

Today was my first day back in his class for a while.  Since coming back to NY I has sort of been all over the place with classes because my work shift has been different every week.  Well, it was so good to be back in his class.

As I mentioned yesterday, all Slow Flow classes are not alike. When I'm in Elias's class I don't feel like the flow is slow, so I can only imaging what a regular pace class is for him.  He keeps telling me to come to his Happy Hour class, which is really a happy hour and a half.  LOL! We'll see.  ;-)

The focus of today's class was hip openers and I can feel my hips as I sit here writing. I should really be in the tub right now.  Anyway,  I really appreciated Elias talking about when the hips are opened you might feel like you want to cry because we hold a lot there. This could explain why sometimes women cry when having sex, but I digress...  So he prepared people for what they might feel post class, which I always appreciate. There is nothing like doing some body work and finding yourself in the supermarket a hot blubbering mess. LOL!  Well at least a little emotional in the street.  I have been there for sure.

I will be sure to make it to class with Elias at least one or two more times before I leave for school.  His preferred style of yoga is Anusara and I think I'm starting to feel the vibe.

I can't believe there are only 10 days before I leave for school. Time is really flying and I have so much to get done.  I guess I better hop to it. Thank you all for your donations! Keep them coming and keep spreading the word.


Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 11

I know I'm really late again. In fact a whole day late, but here goes.  

I went to the 11am Slow Flow class and it felt really calm.  As I mentioned yesterday, I have been really feeling my shoulder.  I know it will pass, but today was no exception, but I pushed through.

I'm really starting to like this teacher.  Her name is Marissa and today made the third class I've taken with her.  I've been to a few Slow Flow classes in which I wasn't sure why it was called that, but everyone has their own style.

We really took our time moving through the postures, but she kept a good pace so it didn't feel like a Basics class. One thing that stood out for me in class today was the use of the strap. Of course I have used straps many times in class, but today I could actually feel what it had done to lengthen my legs. I placed the strap around the bottom of our foot and stretched my right leg out to the right while I held the strap in my hand and then we took our leg across out body in the opposite direction.  When she told to put our foot down I could energetically feel how it was longer than the other for that moment. We soon did the other side and things evened out.  That felt really amazing to me.

After class today I had to meet with my friend Hollie to talk some business and then I came home to prepare for rehearsal. So it was pretty normal day, but yoga class was great!

Thank you again to everyone who has donated so far and those who are still to come.  We are 70% funded!  Let's keep this going.  Thank you so much!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 12

As you can see I'm on the late night blog again.  Well it was a sort of long day.  I had a show tonight so I was focusing on that, but I did make it to class today.

For those of you who read the blog yesterday you may be happy to know that my instructor Keri is OK. She was in class today teaching and she was not in pain.  I was really glad to see that. So today's class was great as usual.

The class was more meditative than usual. Keri had us sit in silence for 5 minutes before we moved into any postures.  Now I meditate on a regular, but for folks who don't I know that sitting for 5 minutes can seem like an eternity, but I welcomed it.  Today's class was a Basics class, which has been really great for me as I get ready to go.  I know I said this before, but it has been helping so much to take that step back before I go forward.  I am getting more and more clear about the things that I'll need to work on at school.  I know I'm exactly where I need to be, but I'm also clear about where I want to be.

I have been feeling my left shoulder a lot. I know it will stop hurting.  It did when I did my 30 days of yoga so I know it can again. It doesn't hurt all the time, but I surely do feel it.  It will get stronger.

I got my first box of Yogi Muscle Rejuvenation tea.  I'm told that it's the bomb for aches and pains so that will be part of my daily ritual.  I'm so excited!

Thank you again so much for your support. We are so, so close to our goal. I continue to be humbled by all of your generosity.  The thermometer says we are 70% funded.  Let's do this!  Thank You! Thank You.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 13

I know the day is done, but for some reason I just couldn't get this one out in a more timely fashion.  At any rate it was an strange yoga day for me.

I got up early this morning to go to the 8:15 class. Last Monday when I went I was the only one in class so I got an impromptu private session. I was kind of hoping that might happen again today and it sure did, but there was a little twist.

When I got to the studio Keri, the instructor, was behind the desk. She didn't look or sound to good. When I asked her if she was OK she told me she was in a lot of pain. She had a staff infection that should have been healing, but she feared something was very wrong.  She said that in the class before mine, she almost threw up and felt like she was going to pass out.  Well that was enough for me to say that she should skip class for the day.  It was only me after all and I knew I could go to the Court street studio to practice at 9:30am.

So we locked up and walked from downtown Brooklyn along Court street to Cobble Hill.  Keri thought she would feel better walking than getting on the subway or bus because she was also feeling dizzy and thought the movement wouldn't help.

During our walk, she gave me some great suggestions about what to bring with me to teacher training. I was so thankful because I was thinking about that this morning. It just kind of hit me that I am two weeks away from leaving.  I have so much going on in these next couple of weeks and it just hit me the amount of things I have to get done and quickly.

When Keri and I got to the Count street studio, we parted ways. I then realized that I was really early for class. So I went and got a croissant and then headed back to the studio.

I didn't know who usually teaches the 9:30 class, but what I did find out is that it was sub. I don't usually have any problem with that especially if it's a class that I never or rarely go to, but this sub was really strange. Not everyone jibes with all instructors and that's how I felt today. Class seemed to be all over the  place, but after class I could tell that some people really liked it.  Sigh... To each her own.

So the class for me today was not the best. I did all I was supposed to do, but for some reason it didn't click in as some of the other classes I've been to.  All I can do now is take notes to make sure when I'm teaching I can incorporate or take out whatever I need when I'm building classes.

I won't say too much more about it. I'm just glad I got up and out today for Day 13.  Speaking of that, we are so close to reaching our goal for yoga school. Please keep spreading the word and please donate if you can.  No matter how large or small, it all counts.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Days 15 & 14

It was a great weekend. So good that I didn't get to write until now.  I wrote about Day 16 from the road with Burnt Sugar, which was amazing! We played in Philly on Friday night, but I did my due diligence and went to class on Saturday morning.  No too early, but morning nonetheless.

The strange thing about Saturday (Day 15) was that I got up and was ready to go to class in plenty of time, but for some reason I was still late.  Well the reason is that I always forget how janky the trains are on the weekend. I hate getting to class late, but it happens. Luckily Saturday's class was an hour and a half.  Most of the classes at Area are an hour and ten minutes.

Saturday's class was a Basics class and Angela was teaching.   She took her time in class and allowed me to really think about the postures a little more. I'm really into foundation work right now and I've  really been thinking about and working on my chaturanga. I think I might have been doing it a bit wrong for a while because when I try to do it correctly I can really feel my shoulder and not in the best way.  I'm not beating myself up, but it is something to focus on going forward. I know I need to strengthen my left shoulder.  I know it's not 100%, but I will get there or do the best I can trying.  All in all it was a great class. I'm glad I made it even thought I was a little tardy to the party.

Today (Day 14), I did as I will be doing at Kripalu, which is take the day off.  I will only have 4 Sunday's off the whole time I'm there. I didn't just laze about today though. Once a month I volunteer at a alternative healing center for women with breast cancer or survivors called You Can Thrive!  It's an amazing place and I get to do Reiki on the women who come and help them in their healing process. These women are so inspirational.  I feel blessed to be a part of that healers community.

Besides that my day was pretty regular. Cleaned house a bit, biked to see my cousin for a while, came home, made dinner and then had rehearsal for my shows this week.  It was a great day.

I received a few donations over the weekend and I am so thankful. We are almost there folks!  Just about $300 to go to make tuition! It's really amazing how generous everyone has been. I am so humbled and thankful.  There is still time to donate so please help out in any way you can. Either by donating or spreading the word.  Thank you so much!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 16

This morning when I woke up my knee was hurting.  I knew that after a few days I might feel something other than my shoulder.  I have all kinds of potions that I've made or were given to me for joint pain so today was the day to put them into action.  I contemplated not going to class, but then I remembered that at yoga teacher training I'm not going to have that choice. Of course if I get hurt or something then I could sit something out, but for the most part you have to be there. So I pulled it together and went to class.

I had to go early this morning because I have a gig with Burnt Sugar today in Philadelphia.  So I went to the 9:15 class with my new favorite teacher Keri.  The class at that time is Power Yoga and I was a little concerned about what the pace might be with my knee hurting, but I promised myself that I would go the edge and if it really hurt then I would back off. It was raining this morning, which also didn't help my energy level, but I pushed on.

In class today the power was really more in the core and back then in the pace, which I was glad about.  I moved through the asanas pretty well, but I was having a little bit of issue with my chaturanga.  I was tired for real so my vinyasa was a little sloppy today.  I felt myself getting sleepy at points while practicing, which is crazy, but I stayed focused the best I could.

Today Keri gave me more great shoulder advice. I have so much work to do in that area since I have pain   sometimes.  I also went up into full wheel today after not going it for a long time.  It was a challenge to say the least.  My left wrist was really hurting and it was tough to push up into the pose, but Keri helped me out.  Then she suggested that I do the pose against the wall with blocks and that really helped.  I am pretty clear what I will have to work on in school. Full Wheel and strangely enough, Tree pose.  Seems simple, but gives me a little trouble.  I am so thankful for these classes with Keri before I leave.  I'm so excited about it all.  At the end of class my knee wasn't hurting anymore. This is the power of yoga.

As we close the week I want to thank everyone once again for your donations to helping to make my dreams come true.  We are almost at our goal! The deadline to turn in the final portion of the tuition in October 9th.  Please keep spreading the word.  Thank You!  Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Countdown to Yoga School ~ Day 17/The N word and I don't mean Namaste

Yoga in the city can be tough sometimes. Not the classes themselves, but what you walk in to after you leave class. I guess that's why we do it. So that we can have a better disposition and more compassion for everyone in world. For our fellow human beings.  But sometimes it's a challenge.  It's a challenge to stay grounded even when you've just left the studio 15, 20 or 30 minutes ago.

In today's class I definitely stretched some muscles that I haven't in a while. So I know I will be feeling that, but I've been feeling pretty good over all. I was thinking that my shoulder might give me some issue, but it's been pretty minimal. Maybe I'm a bit stronger than I think I am or maybe I just haven't hit that Power yoga class yet. LOL! Either way, I feel good.

When I left class today, I made a stop at Trader Joe's and then headed for the bus home.  For the folks reading this in Brooklyn, then you may know the joy and the pain or riding the 65 bus. The joy is that it drops me right in front of my house. The pain is that you might not ever know when it's coming.  The bus is notoriously late and today was no exception.

I was waiting for quite a while when the bus finally came. I found myself a seat in the front and started to settle in when I realized that the woman sitting next to me was having a really loud conversation in which every other word out of her mouth was N***a.  If you are not clear what that is, it's Nigga. Yeah I said it!  Lol!  Now mind you, I am not naive.  I know that the word is used all the time and without thought on a regular basis. But sometimes, many times, it's just used in excess and for no reason or in a spot where another would could be used to create the same emphasis.  Sonia Sanchez once said that if people curse all the time in what would be considered "normal" conversation,  it's probably due to a lack of vocabulary. She believes, if you are going to curse in life, in your writing, etc. you should make it mean something.  Give it real weight.

To this case in point, the woman next to me would not calm down, pipe down or slow down. She was just going on and on with n***a this and n***a that, and that n***a and this n***a,  and well, you know what I'm saying.  When I hear people do this on the bus, train or even in the street talking to friends about other people who are the brunt of the word, I really want to walk up or slide up next to them and repeat the word every time they say it within earshot of them to see if they can hear themselves. See if they can really hear the words coming out of their mouth as it is coming out of mine.  I wonder if it would get me in to an fight. Would someone wonder why I'm calling them a n***a not realizing that it is them saying the word and I'm simply a mirror.

I know you might wonder what this has to do with yoga. Well when this started happening I took a breath. I really tried to find some compassion for my sister.  Clearly there was some drama going on and I honestly hoped that the situation would resolve not just for the sake of my ears, but for the sake of her journey. But you know what, I guess this is her journey.  Hmm...  Then I looked around the bus and found another seat, away from the noise.  Trust me when I tell you that  I'm not like this everyday, but I think today it did help that I had just come from class.  Sometimes it's the little things.