Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflections on 2010 at the studio

What a year phew!  This year at Yoga Prairie, our studio has seen some tremendous growth.  It is great seeing many new faces and the others who have been with us from the beginning still coming to classes.  In May after my biking accident, my teaching took on a new dimension.  Learning to teach with injuries and vertigo has taken the level of teaching to new dimensions too.  I am focusing more now on meditation and going deeper into the mind/body connections of the practice.  The accident was a blessing even though it has been painful both physically and emotionally.  Right before Christmas I found out that my medical bills were not going to be paid for by my auto accident insurance.  It was a traffic accident caused by me trying to avoid a bus.  The bus may have hit my bicycle, but I was not conscious - I was knocked out.  There was a witness who called the accident in on 911, but police will not release the record because of a law that protects 911 callers.  The caller told the police that a bus hit a bicyclist.  I now am dealing with the not knowing and letting that go.  Another opportunity to release attachment.  I do hope that motorists will be more watchful and careful around bicycles.  Share the road.  I have taken my attention more to the business of running the studio and also to providing a deeper and more authentic experience for all who walk in the front door at Yoga Prairie. 

This winter we did a 40-day yoga challenge and those members who participated took on a whole new level of practice for themselves, seeing first hand how a yoga practice supports not just the physical, but also their mental and emotional lives as well.  This has been a very successful result - I could not have asked for more from this challenge.

The studio continues to be behind on paying our rent and slow on paying other bills, but we are slowly catching up in that area.  It is interesting to note that how I run my business is perhaps unique.  Each day I meditate and focus on allowing the real boss to dictate things.  I am a steward of this space for the community.  The Master - God - holds the reins and steers the business.  It is a joy to be taken along for this ride.  Thank you to all of you who are riding along with us.  Happy New Year!

40-Day Challenge - Reflections from Participants

Karen Kinnard - I am moved by you all. . . .

Angie Perschnick
The yoga challenge was a really good experience for me. I feel like I've gotten a lot stronger during the challenge, and my mind is less scattered (more able to calm down & focus) overall. Going to the studio 3 days a week was difficult at times with children and scheduling conflicts, but it was a good chance for me to figure out how to prioritize my health goals that can so often be pushed aside when I get really busy or feel others need something from me at the time.

I'm looking forward to doing the Weight Loss/Wellness Boot Camp starting in January too. I love yoga practice and want to combine that with my efforts to lose weight. I did lose several pounds during this challenge and would like to continue on that journey and become healthier in the new year. I hope some of you join me in that challenge as well!
Enjoy the holidays and congratulations on taking on this yoga challenge!

Aimee Jackson
The challenge has been great for me. And a true challenge. The "why" is what I continue to still work on. I love yoga--it restores me--it makes me feel more connected to everything and everyone around me--so why do I let it so easily go by the wayside? What this challenge did do for me is at least put it in my mind every day, weather or not I practiced, I thought about it. And often my practice wasn't asana at all, but trying to focus on a principal of the yamas and niyamas, which really is the point of it all anyway.

Practicing asana more often gave me more opportunity for insight into the poses so that I could be in them more deeply, find my balance, my center. Explore those poses that are restrictive for me with curiosity instead of resistance. Practicing in studio several days a week reminded me how much I love doing yoga with others, and how much I benefit from letting the teacher guide me because I almost always will go deeper into a pose when someone else is guiding me.

I certainly wasn't perfect and did not achieve daily practice. I tried to blog through most of it, but really only blogged daily for about the first 20 days. But what I found was that I didn't need it so much after that. The blogging was what helped me stay on track and focused on daily yoga, but once it took hold and become more a part of my daily consciousness, I didn't feel the need to articulate it out loud so much. As is always the case with deeper yoga practice, my mind finally turns off; my words lose their usefulness; and I simply move and breathe and am--and that's enough.

Thank you Karen for this opportunity, and everyone else for being part of the journey.

Mona Lynn
Gracious Greetings to all,

I reside in Missouri and went to high school with Karen. We recently reconnected via Facebook. I have heath issues, and was so inspired by reading Karen's blog posts about her recovery from her recent bike accident, that I decided to attempt yoga again after a not so good experience several years ago. Thus, I decided to take the 40-day yoga challenge virtually so to speak. I live in a rural area where there are no yoga studios. So, I dug my yoga mat and a couple of DVD's out of the closet and decided if I committed to the challenge online, then it would make me accountable for following through to the goal line.

When I began my practice it was physically painful due to my body's de-conditioned state. But each day it seemed to get easier and the pain decreased. Until I attempted a new pose the first week of December, when I experienced a new "opening" sensation in my lower back that I was uncertain about. Karen encouraged me via e-mail. I was feeling improvement, and my posture was improving. I was on track with the 6 days practice, 1 day rest from Nov. 14th thru Dec. 11th. and must say, I was feeling proud of my goal accomplishment.

And then...on Dec. 11th my husband was in a serious accident with a big tree while cutting firewood. That brought my yoga challenge to a screeching halt! I wasn't sure how I was going to get though caring for him as a result of my own health challenges. However, we experienced a Christmas Miracle! He is recovering very well! I have no doubt the time I had spent practicing yoga prior to his accident had strengthened me both physically and emotionally so that I was able to deal with the whole traumatic event and care for him and take care of everything for 2 weeks.

What I learned was I had not practiced yoga long enough to remember to breathe and calm myself while my body was in a full blown adrenaline rush. I instead reverted to my old habits and paced for hours on end like a caged animal. I was however able to remember to breathe and remain calm, thus keeping my husband calm until the ambulance arrived for him. So there was some benefit from my practice.

While I was very disappointed not to be able to complete the challenge. I am feeling good about my physical improvements that I can see in retrospect. It was indeed a powerful time! However, as a result of the positive improvements I've experienced during the challenge, yesterday, Dec. 27th, I chose to begin practicing gentle yoga as a 5 day a week habit.

I wish you all a healthy and Happy New Year!  Namaste, Mona

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

108 Sun Salutations

Last night, the darkest night of the year, also of the last 360 some years (because of a lunar eclipse!), I hosted a 108 Sun Salutations event.  What is it about this name that keeps people away?  Okay, well, I think I understand.  If you have never done 108 Sun salutations, you have nothing to compare it to, and you have no expectation of what you can get out of it.

In the beginning, there is comararaderie - you are there with friends who also love the yoga practice.  Then you begin to move with the breath, it may seem odd at first, everyone doing that and no one talking.  Then you begin to go deeper into concentration - on breath, body, moving efficiently.  You may notice others around you, yet it almost seems like once more, you are alone. 

Last night only one other person showed up to do this with me.  Kim has been a student of mine for several years, she wants to teach yoga, she loves yoga, she has a great career and family and she doesn't live in Minnesota right now - she lives in California.  So Kim - who now lives in California - is the only student who showed up to participate in the 108 during a Minnesota snow storm.  How appropriate!

Back to the experience...we were moving together, completely breathing as one and counting together.  About number 35 or 38, I realized I was starting to warm up and sweat, and the poses felt really great.  I began to feel all the connections once again re-connected (I don't feel that daily since my biking accident).  We kept going, we never stopped.  At one point I got a side ache, and it is likely from that cup of coffee and christmas cookie I had an hour before we started....  Around number 90, I realized we were going to keep going with out stopping - I think the first time that has happened for me.  It was easy!  I had to move a little more mindfully and slowly from 90 to 108 because my right elbow was hurting a bit - my right side is weaker since my accident (concussion on left side of brain).  All in all - it felt really great to loosen up my body that much and to sweat - a rare thing these days with near zero temperatures outside!

Thank you Kim !  Next 108 will be on March 21, 2011 at Yoga Prairie,  my wish/dream is that the studio will be packed for this event!  (6:30 p.m. on a Monday night!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

40-Day Yoga Challenge is coming into final weeks

This has been a challenging time to do 40 days of yoga.  With the darkest part of winter also come dark days in the way that you will be challenged to stay positive in your outlook.  It may be really tough now to step onto your mat to practice.  Know that all of us who are participating in this challenge are experiencing this.  Know that the darker days will be moving towards lightness once again in just one more week.  Hold on - you can do this.  Step onto your mat with the intention to move - just move your body with the breath.  Move into a pose and stay there until your body intuitively tells you to move again into another pose.  Give yourself time to pause in between poses in Tadasana (mountain pose) or Sukhasana (easy pose-also known as the seated cross-legged pose).   When you move intentionally with your breathing and when you hold a pose with your focus on your breath, you are practicing yoga. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deepening the Practice

Committing to a 40-day yoga challenge takes you beyond, deeper than the physical.  You begin to gain the strength and courage to dive deeper.  You learn to control and strengthen the breath, the life force becomes stronger and the power of this burns away illusion.  The first step in this burning away is that you begin to actually see it for what it is.  You realize the discomfort or the choking effect of putting up with the illusions you have created around you in your life.  It is then you begin to loosen the chains that bind you into that illusion.  It can be a struggle or it can be as simple as shrugging of a bathrobe.  The harder one resists, but more it is a struggle and it seems you have to fight to have it change.  However, there is another way. . . surrender and relax. 

Notice your desire to make it a struggle and keep surrendering and relaxing.  Powerful work.