vinyasa flow pic

I am asked often what is yoga and what do you do in class. I also hear lots of comments about why folks do not do yoga. Everything from “I am not flexible at all” to “I cannot sit still that long” and my very favorite “I tried it once and I just didn’t like it”. I have lots of answers to those excuses, such as the reason you aren’t flexible is because you are not doing yoga. Also, if you can’t sit still maybe you should practice. And, finally, if you only tried it once how do you know you don’t like it…maybe try a new teacher or different style or better yet, just try it again with an open mind. But, all those responses would be somewhat sarcastic and definitely put someone on the defensive. So, I instead try to smile, nod in understanding, and offer an idea of what I love about yoga.

Today I want to speak a little to vinyasa flow yoga. As most of you know, there are so many types of yoga, and I enjoy just about any type. But, at the heart of my practice and the essence of me as a teacher is always vinyasa. Vinyasa means flow or moving from posture to posture linking the breath to movement in a harmony that quiets the mind, relaxes the body, and heals the soul. To me vinyasa is like a moving meditation that gets me out of the thoughts and chatter of my mind and into the moment so that I can experience each pose and each sensation in my body in a very focused and aware way.

Now, it isn’t like this every class and it most certainly didn’t start out this way. It took time for me to become comfortable with the postures and the names of the postures. It took time and a level of trusting my teachers to attempt new and challenging asana. It took time for me to accept myself and my practice as it is with no self-doubt and criticism – and those things still pop up from time to time. But, the overall lesson for me time and time again to find my flow, let go of the struggle, and move into stillness. This is hard and it takes practice, but the end result is so worth it.

So whether you are looking to find a little flexibility or trying to de-stress and be still or maybe you are just looking for something different – Try a vinyasa class – and try it more than once. It may be just the class that propels you to new ways of thinking about your health, fitness and life.

Hi! Just a quick note to remind you about upcoming yoga events.

My regular schedule is posted on the blog home page. In addition, there are several workshops coming up.

WILMINGTON:
Happy Hips – February 9th from 8:30-10 am – Lots of hip opening to help hips, low back, and legs

Yoga and Running Workshop Series – Starting in March – More details to follow – Work on technique and form OR start your running and work up to a 5K with us. FUN!

CHARLOTTE AREA
Saturday, March 16th:
9 – 11 AM Vinyasa Flow at Mint Hill Yoga
1-4 PM Yoga for Athletes at Mint Hill Yoga
Sunday, March 17th
Assist and Adjustments Workshop at Mint Hill Yoga

All the details for these workshops are on the blog or will soon be posted!!

I hope you all are having happy, healthy, safe new years.

Namaste’

So I am teaching a lot of yoga for athletes these days. I think there are two common misconceptions.Athletic-Recovery-Yoga-Benefits_png

1. You are not an athlete. Folks seem to think that if they are not training for an Ironman or they are not in the race for the Olympics that they are not classified as an athlete. The American English Dictionary definition of athlete is “a person who is proficient in sports and/or other forms of physical exercise”. So, by definition you are an athlete if you engage in physical exercise on a regular basis. Everyone who is active and exercises needs yoga for athletes to stretch over used muscles and strengthen weak areas.

2. Yoga for Athletes is athletic yoga. Some folks tell me they haven’t tried my yoga for athletes class because they thought it would be too advanced or too intense for them. This is the opposite of my yoga for athletes class. Now if you try out my vinyasa class you may or may not be right, but yoga for athletes is totally different. It is intended, and I repeat, to stretch over used, tight muscles and strengthen weak and injury-vulnerable areas. The class many times a little flow or movement to heat the body. We work standing postures and core work to strengthen. Finally, we spend a great deal of time on deep stretch, meditation and relaxation. Just the compliment to an exercise heavy or training heavy lifestyle.

So, yoga, do it! Even if you are an athlete. Even if you are not flexible – especially if you are not flexible! Here is a link to great article detailing why yoga was so great for this athletes life. I will follow up with more info on yoga for athletes.

Namaste’ and happy exercising!!

Happy Thanksgiving! As I write, Iwait getting ready to go yet another family gathering to laugh, eat, celebrate, eat some more and laugh some more! Gratitude permeates today. I am writing this on my iPhone so I will be brief today, but I offer you the idea to practice gratitude everyday. Practice it even on the days it’s not easy to practice. Find gratitude even in the hard times of life.  In the poem The Guest House by Rumi he wrote,

“This being human in a guest house

Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meannes

Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows

Come to sweep your house of its furniture

Treat each guest honorably

He may be clearing you out for some new delight”

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I amgrateful for you all!

 

Check out this link for practices in finding gratitude.

 

 

 

So, as always, I try to stay clear of these statements and discussions with students.  What are the things you shouldn’t talk about at work…politics, religion, and….sex maybe…well, if not, those sound like good topics not to discuss at work🙂

But, this post, while still politically based, has a different intention.  The intention is to express the way I feel about the state of our country with no political lines drawn around it.  I will go ahead and tell you, I am a registered democrat, but I do not vote a straight ticket and I most certainly never vote for the President of the United States by what political party he is aligned with.  Now, certainly, there are issues that stay true to each party that make people lean towards voting more consistently with one party than another.  My husband is a registered Republican, but we agree on many issues.  So why, in a time where we push to break down the lines that divide people in our everyday life, do we continue to accept and basically thrive off of having a division between the people of US right down the middle?  Why do we as American’s (the melting pot, the most innovative, the most _____you fill in the blank) continue to play into the “us” and “them” card?  Every four years, why do we put two people who otherwise are two of the most respected people in the world for their intelligence, their national pride, and their dedication to country in front of the TV screen and start tearing them down for the accomplishments as well as the failures they have had in their life?

It is absolutely ridiculous to me.  It really hit home this year when my 6 year became interested in the election.  I noticed that everything that was being publicized on television as well as talked about amongst adults in ear shot of clever little ears were lessons that I actually preached against to my son.  We teach our son to applaud accomplishment in others.  We teach him to love his neighbors.  We teach him good sportsmanship.  We teach him to do his best everyday and no matter win or lose he should be proud of what he was able to do.  We teach him that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!  Well, the election was definitely not modeling those lessons and many others.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he told me “I hate ___(fill in the blank of a presidential candidate___)”.  I spun around quickly, shocked.  One, because I didn’t think he knew anything about the election, and, two, because we do not “hate” things in our house.  We can disagree, we can strongly dislike, but hate is a word that is reserved for the worst of circumstances and in most instances not used at all.  So, this lead to a discussion with him about politics, the political parties, and how we make our decisions based on the issues the candidates stand for, not the candidates themselves.  This amazing little 6-year-old actually sat with me for about 20 minutes and wanted me to read and explain the major points in each candidates platform.  He then made his own decision on who he was going to vote for.  And, I will tell you he decided he would vote for Romney because he liked his K-12 education plan, which is something that would be important to a kindergartener.  Nothing made me more proud, because he did it because he believed in the issues.  And, now that the election is over, do you think I have heard that little man say one negative word about where our nation is going or the state of our education system?  NO!  Because, we have taught him to do his best, but you win some and you lose some.  We have taught him to be a good sport and that if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.  And we have taught him to love his neighbors.  Most importantly through this election we have taught him to love and respect his country and now that we have a president elected we stand behind him and those that help him make decisions.  What we have taught him is that after this election, we drop the two sides and we come together as one.  One strong body of people who respect each other and want the best for one another, because that is the road to success.  I hope that we adults can actually model this for our young people – or maybe we need to learn from them.

So, anyway,  my not so political statement may actually be pretty political.  There may be people who say I am naive or that I have my head stuck in the sand.  But, that could not be farther from the truth.  I have my eyes wide open.  I see all the division and all the hatred and all the anger.  I choose to believe that we as a group of people are better than that.  I choose to have faith in humanity and faith in Americans.  I choose to have faith and hope.  Hope for our country, hope for our future, and hope for our children’s future.  We all have a choice.  I hope the choice of the majority is to put aside the division and move forward as one.

What does this have to do with yoga?  Not much…but yoga is the ultimate teacher or union.  The yoking together of the mind, body and spirit in a way that makes us more connected to the bigger picture – to the universe – to each other.  The Bhagavad Gita states, “Free from all thoughts of “I” and “mine”, that man finds utter peace.”

This is a little late in current events.  I wrote this last week in the heat of the moment and then put aside to proofread later.  Life happened and here it comes a week late.  Hopefully still thought-provoking and hope you enjoy🙂

So, like most people this time of year, my family is feeling under the weather.  One week the oldest has a headache, then the youngest has a runny nose, and before you know it my husband and I are coughing, achy and fatigued.  I guess it is the curse of having little ones running around your house.  The blessings of children more than make up for the aches and pains though!

So, while it is perfectly okay and sometimes completely necessary to run to the doctor for an antibiotic or to grab a dose of NyQuil to catch some sleep, here are some tips and “yoga tricks” to try this season if you are feeling not so great.

Headache and sinus congestion

Take an ace bandage and wrap it tightly around your forehead.  You can even wrap it so it covers your eyes if you have a really severe headache.  Then lie down with a few pillows or a bolster supporting your body at an angle.  Place the bottoms of your feet together for Supta Baddha Konasana.  Have a rest for 5 min – 15 minutes.

Nasal Congestion

Try alternate nostril breathing or  Anuloma Viloma.  This breath will not only help to clear the nasal passages, it will restore balance to the flow of prana or life energy in the body.

Fatigue from Illness

When all is said and done, you have kicked the bug that was weighing you down, but you still feel fatigued??  Try one of two things.

1.  Get a few minutes of complete, deliberate rest during the middle of your day.  Sit for meditation, do a few restorative yoga poses, or focus on your yogic breath for 5-10 min.  The meditation can be as simple as watching your thoughts and practicing letting go of each thought that enters your mind for a few minutes, and restorative yoga poses done for 3 -5 minutes can calm and heal.  A few moments of deliberate rest throughout your day will recharge your system.

2.  Do a few rounds of Sun Salutations to get you going.  This sequence of poses will invigorate your body and wake up that groggy mind.

Listen to your body and whatever technique best suits your recovery try it a few times until you feel better.

Here’s to health and happiness through the rest of the year!

Namaste’ Ya’ll!

Happy Fall!  This is a picture of my kiddos when we visited the “pumpkin patch” in our new town.  While this church lawn scattered with pumpkins was very different from driving out to a farm and riding a wagon to pick our pumpkin as we have done in years past, it was still a fun family experience.  As we continue to settle into our new community and celebrate all our first holidays here, we are taking each day and each event as an exciting new experience and loving every minute.  Santosha at it’s best – contentment with what is now!

I have been here 5 months now, and we really feel settled in our home and our neighborhood.  I just recently started teaching yoga here.  It has only been a couple weeks.  Things are going well, but for things like yoga when you leave a location you leave your current students.  It is not only sad to leave those connections and those friends, but it is hard to find a new community when you arrive in the new location.  I am definately enjoying those I am meeting and having fun teaching to new folks that have different experiences, needs and desires from their yoga practice.  But, I am also trying to connect back to my beginner’s teachers mind about how to reach those new to yoga in our area or my studio.  I am trying to get folks excited about their practice and about the community that yoga brings to a location.

I have question to you folks who have been my student for a long time or for those yogis for a while regardless of who your teacher is/was…what was it that made you come back to yoga time and time again?  What drew you to yoga in the first place?  What if your favorite thing about yoga?  How do you really fit it into your life?

So, asking for feedback this time.  Give me some fresh ideas that will inspire me to inspire others in my community.  Thank you so much for you time and your thoughts.

FYI, getting geared up to blog more.  Changing things a little though.  I am going to try posting more info and articles on yoga as well as fitness, training tips, and sample practices.  In addition, I will get a regular Jessica orginal article on yoga philosophy and how it relates to life.  I look forward to “seeing”you all online more.

Just a quick post to highlight my upcoming events…

Saturday, October 20th

10 AM Vinaysa Flow at Lotus Living Arts in Concord, NC – $5 vinyasa class – no pre-registration required

Visit www.lotuslivingartsstudio.com for more details and directions

 

Saturday, October 20th – 21st

Yoga for Runners – 3 Workshops in 2 days!

Vinaysa Flow for Runners, Sat 1-3 pm

Deep Stretch for Runners, Sat 3:30 – 5

Restorative Meditation for Runners, Sun10:30 – 12

All classes are$20 or take the whole weekend for $50

Visit www.thebindu.com for more details and to pre-register.

 

I look forward to seeing all my Concord/Charlotte/Lake Norman yoga buddies in a few short weeks!

Some of you may remember when I was writing the newsletters for the yoga studio I use to own.  There was one particular issue where I detailed a mountain bike ride I had with my husband.  If you don’t remember it, it was basically a story of my fear, lack of skill, and really FEAR about mountain biking.  And, in that account my husband had me come along, and I made it through and learned a process of letting go to enjoy the ride.

Well, that has been many moons ago, and I went on my second ever trail ride with my husband yesterday.  EVERYTHING in that passage still rang true.  I was still terrified of every root, every bump and every steep decline.  It was still hard for me to “let go” in that way.  For my husband and many others out there it is not.  As he shouted back at me during mile 2 [after I had fallen down in the dirt once and been stopped on every rough hill and kept yelling, “I can’t!  OUCH!”] he threw my blog post from yesterday back at me.  He shouted “Find the beauty”.  Touche’ Mr. King.  I promptly responded back with just as much smart-a** sarcasm, “You find the beauty.  This is not my beauty.”

But, hey, in the end it was fun.  We had fun together, and I tried to enjoy something that he really loves.  And, we got an awesome workout in the process.  AND, what I learned during yesterday’s ride is that there was beauty in that ride for me.  While it is still a lesson in letting go, now in my life the lesson was more embracing my handicaps.  Helen Keller said, “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.”  The beauty in that ride for me was understanding what my handicaps are and being just fine with them.  I am not a risk taker on the trail.  It’s okay if I would rather hop off my bike and push it up the hill that is covered in tree roots and sharp curve that immediately throws you down a steep hill.  My mind tells me “STOP!  You are going to die!”.  While that is probably a little dramatic, it is a true feeling for me.  And that is okay.  Struggling is okay, because it means you are pushing yourself beyond comfortable limits and that is where growth starts.  By continuing to pedal even through fear and discomfort, I embraced my handicaps.  What I do know is that I am an endurance athlete.  Give me a 2 hour vinyasa or a long slow 13.1 miles, and I am a happy camper.  My husband kept asking me if I needed a break.  I said “no, keep going, the long stretches are the only part I enjoy”!

So, there is my beauty.  Just as I mentioned yesterday, Rolf Gates says “dharma is a gift from God inscribed upon the heart”.  Our practice is the inhale that helps us prepare.  The result, the exhale, is the manifestation of all that preparation.  And that doesn’t come without the bumps and the uphill.  So the beauty is the struggling up the hill, the resistance to the practice, the fear of the unknown.  The beauty is in our handicaps, because they make us who we are and they show us the possibility for growth and the light at the end of the trail.  I know I will always struggle with those trail rides, but they will always shine light on my true talents and initiate growth either physically or mentally.

So, today I thank God for my handicaps, because without them I would never know where my talents lie and how to reach my full potential.  I know my husband is reading this.  And, I know he thinks he “got me” with that “find your beauty, Jessica. ha, ha, ha”.  But, Mr. King, I have once again turned lemons in to lemonade, and I know that makes you crazy.  But, I also know you are smiling right now :)  Thank you for showing me my handicaps, because it is with you I find myself, I find my work, and I find my God.

“Let the beauty that you love be what you do.” – Rumi

I am ruminating on this one today.  I picked up Meditation from the Mat by Rolf Gates again this week.  I have read the whole book once and many of the passages several times.  It seems that wherever I open up and flip to the message seems to be just what I need to think about.  Today I flipped it open and read this quote…. “let the beauty that you love be what you do.”

It is so easy to get caught up in what we think we should do; what our relatives think we ought to be doing; what we think we need to do to match our neighbors. It is all these outside sources weighing down on our decisions that cause the difficulty in just living our life happily.  While it is hard to really dig deep and find what it is that is our life’s purpose (our dharma), it is not so hard to just wake up each day and do something we love.  Each day wake up and make a step closer to doing what it is you love.  Even if it is one minute out of the workday of the job that is stressful.  Even if it is after work when you are tired and unmotivated.  Think that is “the beauty that I love” and do something to make it happen in your life.   Rolf gates says, “Dharma is a gift from God inscribed up on the heart…[it] is what makes you you.”  We cannot deny ourselves our God-given gifts and those things that we love.  We must make our minds clear enough to see them and then move towards it.

Maybe you love your yoga practice…I know I DO!  I thought of this today while I practiced.  Our yoga practice is preparation for seeing and living our dharma.  Sometimes we are motivated by outside sources to practice – our own self-criticism of our bodies or our minds or our own need to beat what our neighbor is doing in practice today.  But, eventually the practice wears away at the self-doubt, the criticism and the competition.  It begins to prepare our bodies and our minds for living our dreams without self-doubt and criticism.  As I practiced today I remembered the passage I read from Meditations from the Mat this morning that said, “Coming to the mat, we prepare; going forth into our lives, we shine.  Our practice is an inhalation, our dharma is an exhalation.”  As I inhaled, I prepared; as I exhaled, I went deeper into the posture.  I had a really great practice today.  In turn, my day has been happier, more productive, and lighter than it has been in many days.  I see clearer what I am doing and how I can move forward not only in my practice, but my life.

“Our practice is an inhalation, our dharma is an exhalation.”  Thank you Rolf Gates for the inspiration to move forward into the week.  Happy Monday everyone!

 

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Upcoming Events

Current Class Schedule
Wilmington, NC

Tuesday
10:30 AM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Porter's Neck

Wednesday
8:15 AM Run to Yoga at Wilmington Athletic Club

6 PM Yoga for Athletes at Wilmington Performance Lab

Thursday
6:45 PM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Racine

Get details under Workshop and Class Descriptions

WEEKEND WORKSHOP -
INVERSIONS: TURN YOUR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN
MARCH 9TH
WILMINGTON PERFORMANCE LAB

MARCH 16TH - MINT HILL YOGA
VINYASA FLOW 9 AM - 11 AM
YOGA FOR ATHLETES 1 PM - 3 PM

MARCH 17TH - MINT HILL YOGA
THE ART OF ASSISTS AND ADJUSTMENTS
A TEACHER TRAINING
9 AM - 3 PM

APRIL 7TH - MAY 12TH
A 5K THE OM WAY:
YOGA AND RUNNING WORKSHOPS
SUNDAYS FROM 3:45 - 5 PM
GOLD'S GYM RACINE
WILMINGTON, NC

Jessica Hagler King

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." -- Nikos Kazantzakis
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt
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