Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I decided to try to look around on the Internet for some yoga videos, since I'm probably going to have to teach by myself someday soon..  I came across this nice video.  It's a  vinyasa flow style.  Which means you basically move with your breath.

Vinyasa actually is a Sanskrit word that means "to place in a special way".  So it kind of makes sense because you're trying to move from pose to pose.

This video is a little bit faster than I'm used to, but I think that's because it's a shorter class.  Usually we tend to move into a pose and hold it and go deeper.  But I like this as a quick yoga class when I don't know what to do, or can't make it to the studio.  *PLUS*  I actually like the person's voice who is giving direction.  It's a pleasant German/Austrian sounding voice, which to me makes me feel a little nostalgic.

Give it a try.  If you haven't ever done this style of yoga it helps to watch it first.

here it is

Anyway, more to come, more styles to come....  I'm off to go read the Sutras... I'm trying to do one a day because it's too much to sit down and read.. Thank goodness there's only 196 or so... Maybe I'll be done by the time the training is done.



I blew it!  I started drinking coffee again.  I knew I shouldn't have done that...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The importance of Physical and Mental Health

At the detention center we've been battling for the needs of our students.  This year our PE teacher made a great effort to create a fitness/classroom that would house his health classes.  Not only that, the facility could be used by anybody, including staff, and also a place to hold yoga classes and other small group activities.

The D home said NO.  Worse then that, they said they were turning it into a storage room.  Yep.  That's right, a place for stuff in boxes.  Worse then that, we were actually given $30,000 to create a multipurpose classroom and they still turned it down.  It wouldn't have cost the facility anything.  We were granted the money from the state.  NO.  They would rather turn $30,000 away and have nothing.

So we're trying to come up with a plan B.  We are still granted this money, which is quite a lot.  We have so many ideas, but of course all of them have to get approved by the facility.  I've been doing my part by trying to incorporate yoga with one group after school, and we'll be offering yoga to 2 groups this spring.  The problem is this center.  The people who run this place seem to not care about the well being of the kids. I don't know all the reasons.  I bet you can think of a few on your own.

I decided to go on record about what I think.  And here it is.....

Hi Mike (and co-teachers),

I probably won’t be in tomorrow’s meeting so I thought I would write my own thoughts and feelings about this issue here.  This represents my beliefs and ideas.  I want in no way to offend anyone.  I feel that this issue is extremely important to our school program, but most importantly to our students. 

Firstly, I am so sorry to hear about the abandonment of Plan A (plan to create a health/fitness room for youth and staff).  I think one of the most important topics to our students are health issues.  I feel like our students crave knowledge and accurate information that pertain to their own health and fitness and it is a shame that we cannot give them a physical space to safely explore, understand, and research those issues.

I think this is also a great time to evaluate how I teach.  I think that finding a way to weave in health issues to my own curriculum can be beneficial to my class.  Of course this takes some planning time and a different approach.  I would like to suggest that maybe I could possibly team teach with Mike on occasion about certain things that are within my knowledge base and abilities with fitness and health.

As a whole team we are a knowledgeable group of teachers and already bring our own vast knowledge, creativity, and a wealth of personal experiences to our students.  Could we work across the curriculum in a productive and useful way that meets the needs of our students without overworking ourselves?  Maybe re-evaluating the schedule to accommodate physical health, mental health, and fitness centered classes is an approach worth considering?

Another idea for consideration, may be to plan a health and fitness “expo” for our students?  Or once a week or once a month offer something that aims focus on the holistic well being of our students in all (or most) classes?  Can we get some guest speakers to come in and give in-depth, hands on experiential lessons on health and fitness?  Can we invite people who create workshops on particular topics that are aimed at our population?  Can we attend conferences and workshops ourselves so we are trained to provide those experiences for our students?  Does anybody know where to look for such things?

What is the long term goal of the health and fitness program at NVJDHS?  Will we see this type of funding every year?  Do we ever anticipate having a “home” for the health and fitness program?

I have also already applied for at Dream Fund Grant, and will hopefully be able to continue the after school yoga program with at least 2 units this year (Unit 3 and 4).  I have also looked into other national grants to apply for additional funds to bring in volunteers and possibly receive training.  As you know I will be fully certified in yoga in the beginning of June, and I am already certified in Yokid Yoga Teacher Training.  I would be more than happy to provide yoga classes to students during the school day.  I would be happy to gain training in climbing (I used to climb in New Mexico). 

How can Merilee help us with this road block?  Would she find it acceptable to create a different type of learning environment or change scheduling?  Are we able to offer course changes to include things like yoga? Would funding be available to specific trainings for teachers?

I can also check to see if some of my yoga teachers would know anything.  Many of them are athletes, social workers, artists, and volunteers.  Maybe they or someone they know would be able to offer up some different ideas.

Other ideas:
Wii fit

Take Unit 7 to an Outdoor Education Trip

Bring experiential education to the D- home (there are facilitators that would come in and do team building etc…)  -- This would also require some long term work to actually have a benefit with kids.

Health workers come in to work with units in small groups to discuss sexual health and diseases

Partnerships with Alexandria Mental Health Facilities, Art groups, youth advocates

I do think that changes need to come in some way to the detention home and I feel that we could make a lot of change within the school. We just need to think outside the box and consider things that may be different and not of the “norm”.  We have to remember we do NOT teach the “typical” (whatever that means) student.  All of our students come from a variety of backgrounds, and I think it’s a disservice to not meet them where they are at.  This year in particular, we are fortunate to have a small population in which we actually have the capacity to make a greater impact. 

I think it’s important for me to let my students know that I’m here for them and I’m going to offer them the best that I can, so they can do the best that they can.  Equity in education is such a huge issue in this country.  Every one of our students should get the education they need.  Our population needs education in all subjects, but in particular they need knowledge about their own health, mental and physical well being.  I will do what I can to support you, Mike.

Thank you all for reading this e-mail, I will get off my soap box. 

With warm sincerity,



We'll see what happens......

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yoga and the Autonomic system

This great article will help me bring yoga to more places!!! Let the research begin.  If any of you out there in Internet land know of any yoga research.. let me know.  There is a journal, but other then that, there isn't much!

On a lighter note, had a wonderful gentle yoga class this evening with one of my favorite teachers.  So relaxing.  And this week I definitely experienced some nice hamstring stretches.

So - if your hamstrings are tight, forward folds are definitely a nice thing to do.  However, it's even better when you're lying on your back.  Perhaps do it one leg at a time:

1.  Lay down on the ground.  Feel the points of your body on the floor.
2.  Relax your back into the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles and releasing your lower back to the floor.
3.  Hug your left knee into your chest while keeping your right leg extended.
4.  Place a strap (belt, whatever you got) around the arch of your left foot and gently extend your leg to the ceiling.
5.  While keeping a micro-bend in the knee, on an inhale gently guide your left foot towards your face.  Be gentle, you're not really pulling, but you definitely want to feel a slight pressure.  You don't want to wrench your foot towards your face, you want to feel a nice stretch on the hamstrings, and maybe along the whole back of the leg.  Use your breath to gently ease into the stretch.  Let the strap or belt hold your leg, and let gravity do the work.  If you're feeling it, you're doing it.
6.   Take 10 deep breaths.
7.  To gently get out of this pose. Gently bend your knee and let the strap go.
8.  Hug your knee into your chest once more.  Point and flex your left foot, go around in circles, do whatever helps to relax the foot.
9.  Gently bring your left leg down to meet the right.  Notice the changes or heaviness you might feel in the left leg.
10.  Repeat with the right leg.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holy Coincidence

Ok, I just wrote about the Meyers Briggs.
Well, it wouldn't be a huge deal except, a yoga friend scored the exact same thing.... AND- she's a teacher-- and we both have the same kind of dog..

I know, I'm reaching... but that just totally makes me laugh.   Ok-- must go catch up on some yoga reading..

Personality Types

I've taken a Myers Briggs test.  You know what they are?  It's a personality test that bases the findings on answering a battery of questions.  The particular test I took had about 70 questions, and I was only allowed to answer "yes" or "no".  I can't remember taking the test before this time, but I'm sure I've probably taken it in a psychology class or something. 

My personality type is INFJ.  Which means Introvert/Intuitive/Feeler/Judger.  What the heck does that mean?  Well, it means a lot, now, because I think it really does describe me.   The description that I read said that only about 2% of the people who take this test get this type.  I don't know how I should really feel about that.  Does that make me even more strange?  Maybe just a tad.

It was really interesting to read the description.  While I find it to be a little bit like a horoscope, there was a lot of truth in it.  I have read a number of other descriptions and this one really does seem to fit me.  The test did reinforce some of the things I already knew about myself, but also provided a little bit of insight to why I may react in certain kinds of situations or how I behave with people.

While I do see myself as an empathetic and intuitive person, I'm not quite sure I understand the paragraph about my supposed psychic abilities.  The last part of the description mentioned that I have the ability to understand psychic phenomena and have ESP.  Hummmm....

Yes, that would make me different, wouldn't it. 

Anyway, if you're interested in how you would score on Carl Jung's (he was said to be an INFJ too) test...try it out! You  might find out something new about yourself, and that in turn could possibly open up new understandings or possibilities for you.  The internet as tons of tests, so you have to choose wisely.  It took me forever to find an appropriate test, and no, I didn't pay for it.  I'm going to give it to my students tomorrow.  I think they'll find it interesting.  After all, they're teenagers, all they do is think about themselves!  ;-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Citta Vritti

What is "Citta Vritti" (pronounced C is pronounce "ch")?

We had a huge debate about what that was last night in yoga.  They are sanskrit words that translate to "Mind stuff" .  In one of the important books that we will be reading is "Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, The 8 Limbs of Yoga".  In this Sutra, or thread, he says that basically yoga occurs when there is a stillness.

Which brought up all sorts of reactions.  On of them actually stemming of to are we born with the citta already?  Or is it the stuff that happens to us throughout our life?  Most of us concurred that it can be both.  Kind of like a nature/nurture thing.  We are born with some interesting predispositions that are actually contained inside our genes, or DNA.  But we are also impacted from the time we are born with our environment.

Sound about right doesn't it?  But then we all continued to think, but aren't we born pure? And where doesn't one's idea bout reincarnation come from?  And what about all that??

And whether you actually believe in reincarnation, or one life, or whatever, or that an infant is the purist personification of life, it was the most amazing conversation that ended up being about death.  Can you pick when you're going to die, can you actually say you're done with life.  Or, do you just let life takes it's course and have no say in the matter.

All of this was very deep and emotional for a Monday night, let me tell you.  This group has only been together for 3 days, and already the comfort level of people is amazing.  The trust, the openness and the thoughtful and respectful discussions.  I'm truly feeling very lucky to be a part of this group.  I can only imagine that these next Mondays and weekends will truly be come enlightened times.

After Sunday, I was actually an emotional wreck.  I was upset, and agitated.  I was angry and irritable.  It was the strangest sensation to feel all this after I has just spent the weekend meeting people, talking about ideas, and doing lots of yoga.  But it is also well know that this yoga practice does have lots of impact.  It can bring up thoughts to a quiet mind, it can make you feel vulnerable, and it can make you lose track of time.

When I got home I think that is what happened.  I felt like while I was at the studio time kind of stopped, but the rest of the world somehow sped up.  I felt that while I had one of the most fascinating weekends, I was upset.  Luckily, my husband didn't think I was crazy.  He consoled me and supported me.

I feel better today, I feel good about the choice I made to explore this passion.  Especially at this time.  I don't think I could have come to this earlier in my life, although I wonder why I didn't.

Sutra 1.1
Atha yoganusanam
"Now the existence of yoga"

Monday, January 09, 2012

First snow

What comes to mind if you think about the first snow you ever remember experiencing?

For me:


I wish you peace!!!!  But have fun playing in it!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Happy New Year (I'm a little late)

Better late than never.  This year is bound to bring many changes to all of our lives.  We'll be experiencing and learning new things.  We'll meet new people and encounter many challenges along the way.  That's life!  That's what it's all about.  But what I hope to remember this year is that it's all manageable.  It's all is there to teach you something about yourself. 

This Saturday I set out on my new adventure in yoga teacher training.  I'm really excited and nervous to embark on this journey, however, I know it's going to be a deeply profound and personal experience. My first yoga class was August 1998 in the PE department of the University of New Mexico.  My best friend had taken a few classes at her college, and I was really interested in why she found the practice to be so prolific. It seemed to make sense to me to take a class that was introspective and invloved fluid movements to stretch and tone the body.  At this time, I was still basically a runner and thought that the only way to a healthy life.  I had no idea that you needed balance! I had no idea you could really get so many gifts from the asanas of yoga.

I was also at a turning point in my life.  I completely set out on a new advanture for the first time in my life.  I did it without anyone's help and not a lot of support.  I had just left a damaging relationship, and decided that maybe yoga was exactly what I needed to release the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

So I took a class that met 2 times a week.  It was in the style of Ashtanga, which is actually a pretty rigorous set of poses (that never change).  I liked the class, and I remember the teacher being great at explaining what to do.  She made it seem more like something choreographed.  We learned a lot about breathing, and linking breath to movement, different ways to practice breathing, noticing changes in your body.. all of that.  I loved the class. 

But once it was over, I had no more room in my schedule to repeat it.  So I stopped taking it.  I practiced for a little while on my own, but because I hadn't been going to class, it just kind of faded away.  It's too bad that it did. From then until now it was hard for me to add yoga classes back into my life.  I took a few classes here and there at the gym, and even bought a few books so I could try and re-create the asana practices that I had once done regularly.

It was hard to keep doing it without dedicating time for practice, and being committed to it. 

Having been back in the US for some time now, I've rekindled that practice on a few occassions.  When I first moved back I started taking classes again to relieve stress, and sort of empty my mind.  I filled my summers with classes and really began to enjoy the practice again.  It became a summer activity for the last few years.  I hadn't ever tried to include it in my life during the school year. 

So I thought about that.  Why am I not continuing this practice on a daily basis? Why am I forgetting the benefits of this practice?  Why am I not creating time or space for this?  When I really thought about it I had no reason.  

This time, I decided to make a commitment, go in to yoga with an open and dedicated heart.  Last March I enrolled in classes and haven't stopped since.  Maybe I'm not the most experienced person to ever dive into yoga teacher training, but I'm prepared for the challenge.  I am certain that I will be learning a lot by myself, but also hope to take away information that might work for the students I teach.

I'll be writing a lot abou the teacher training in this blog in the next 6 months.  I hope it becomes a record of my experiences, and hopefully a nugget of information for other people who are interested practicing yoga.

Happy New Year to ALL and  Namaste.