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Yesterday my day started out just like most of yours probably if you are in the Charlotte area…RAINY!  I am training for a half marathon and the training schedule had me running 6 miles.  Needless to say, I was hesitant to get out in the rain!  But, I had said that I would run in a 5 K for a local kid in Cabarrus County called Wheels for Forest 5K.  I had planned on running the 5K and then continuing on to finish 3 more miles to complete the miles I needed to run.  The race was literally 1/2 mile from my house.  For this reason, I dragged my sluggish behind out the door.  It was drizzling..UGH!  Then the road was blocked for the race, so I had to go all the way around the block.  Then there was no parking!  I was really starting to think I was going to pack it in and head home.  But, again that nagging committment thing in the back of my head.  I actually had no one to run with though.  I was only going because a friend was sponsoring the race.  I wanted to support the cause she chose to support.  Without someone to meet, this was even harder with which to stick.  So, with the one last stitch of motivation I had, I found a parking space and ran down at the very last second to register. 

This race was small to measure against others, but to be put together by 1 teenager it was a big accomplishment – HUGE.  She had several dozen local sponsors and I think there were approximately 150 runners over the course of the morning.  Again, I didn’t know anyone so I popped my ear buds in and waited.  They had delayed the race 15 minutes for the wheel chair race to happen and because of rain.  Another inconvenience for me, but again I was there, I was doing this.

Finally, the race was going to start.  It was then my own agenda and purpose began to melt…the yoga started to happen…I got out of my head and CONNECTED to say the least.  They had a prayer by a local pastor where he thanked all involved and thanked Forest, the young man behind the whole event.  There was the light bulb!!  “This is not about you, Jessica, it is about something bigger”.  Forest is a teenager in a wheelchair.  His family was in need of a van to transport him and his wheelchair.  When I opened my eyes from the prayer, I could see Forest (he was front and center for the whole thing and he took his wheelchair up and down the greenway to cheer for everyone).  He had a huge smile on his face.  Then the girl that organized the event started the race.  As I ran, I though of the girl that organized the event.  How much she committed and gave to produce an event this big for someone she met and when needing her help she gave it.  She gave selflessly and fully – INSPIRIED – run got easier!  I thought about Forest and the struggles he has had to deal with in the course of his life.  I bet a little rain was the least of his worries and actually he was there in the rain and all smiles.  INSPIRED some more – run feeling great.  And, then I thought of his mother and father.  I actually didn’t see or meet them or know anything about them.  But, as a parent myself, I thought about what the struggles have been for them.  Providing for his special needs, mentoring him through the hard times, worrying but being full of love.  I thought about what their hearts must feel like this morning to have all these people here running for Forest – a boy who cannot run from himself, but who has inspired so many to run today by the light he shines on the world.  And, there came the tears.  But, what beautiful tears!  I let go of everything right there.  I ran to the finish line.  Grabbed a water, looked back at the crowd, and acknowledged how happy I was to have been a part of it; And, I kept on running.  It was a GREAT run by the way.

So, this is what it is all about…connections to other people.  This is YOGA – the yoking, the union, the understanding of that connection.  Some days we ask why we run or come to yoga.  We feel sore or feel a little discomfort as move towards our edges.  I say that Forest is why we do it.  We do it for him.  We do it for people who cannot do it themselves.  We do it for the people who don’t do it for themselves.  We do it for the people that would and will do it for themselves once the realize they can!  We do it because we can; because we are blessed with the ability to move our legs, fold forward, stand on our hands.  And, all the little aches, edges, and tweaky knees are just reminders that we are human.  That we are flawed, and we havelimitations; but, by doing the work and letting our abilities shine we move out of a place of a flawed being and into a place of light.  Forest knows this.  His wheelchair is a daily reminder of his limitations, but by moving past his wheelchair and shining for the inside, he inspired an entire race that will change his life (and others) forever. 

So, anyway, good Saturday 🙂  Made for a great weekend spent with my kiddos.  Gratitude to those that organized the event, those that sponsored it, and for those in my life that helped me be there.

If you would like to learn more about Forest and his journey as well as the race check out this link:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/09/16/2613456/girl-plans-5k-to-raise-money-for.html

On Day 2 of my detox, I woke a little sluggish.  I believe detoxification actually started happening at this point.  I also took 2 Triphala pills the night before, instead of the 1 I took the first night of the cleanse.  This herb is a natural detoxifier that has probably led to a little of the fatigue this morning.  Throughout the day I had kitchari with coriander chutney (spices up the kitchari for a different taste).  I did supplement with a couple organic apples.  I had running and yoga class on night 2 of the detox.  I was feeling great, but could feel my body was a little depleted, so I did have some steamed vegetables and had a couple of whole grain crackers.  And oh how grateful I was for those veggies!!  It is amazing how much we take for granted the freshness and comfort of vegetables and fruits until we don’t have them.

On day 3 I could really feel the detox!!  My mind was fuzzy and was feeling almost flu-like.  I was able to make it through the rest of the day, but this was the end of my detox.  While I know sticking with it may have really helped me flush out all the toxins and waste and would have made me feel amazing in the end, I did not have the time to slow down and rest enough.  I would like to try this in a couple of years when my children are both in school all day.  The cleanse is definitely intended for someone who can take naps and/or rests during the day…at least in my opinion for my body.  So, I had to stop short so that I could fuel my body for the busy life of a family with 2 kids, 1 husband, 2 dogs, and 3 fish, while including running and yoga!

With that said, I highly recommend this type of detox.  I have done many different ones with different theories behind them.  I felt the affects the most out of this one.  Plus, I mostly felt full and satisfied most of the time.  I also like that it incorporates meditation, yoga and other practices.  This helped me connect that my diet affects my life and my life effects my diet.  The meditation and yoga practice that Yoga Journal offered suggested mindfulness, slowing down, stopping the automatic reaction and just listening to your breath, and noticing how your body feels.  It is nice to allow myself the time to slow down and notice.  Presence in my everyday choices is one thing I will definitely take away from the detox.  Not automatically reaching for a nibble of my kids crackers because I haven’t had time to fix myself lunch, and not munching on snacks in front of the TV – more intentional eating choices.  Not reacting to the busy schedule of our family by picking up fast food or throwing a pizza in the oven.  I will not sacrifice my children’s nutritional needs to get them to soccer or school on time.  I will make time to appreciate and have gratitude for food and how it nourishes us.

I guess what I am getting at is more presence.  MORE PRESENCE, MORE PRESENCE, MORE PRESENCE!  My yoga mantra everyday.  As lululemon says in their manifesto…”BREATHE DEEPLY & APPRECIATE THE MOMENT.  Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.”

I started a week-long Ayurvedic detox today that Yoga Journal suggested and gave guidelines for last week.  I could not get myself organized or committed enough to start last week, so I saved all the information and I started today.  It has been good.  The basic 7 day plan involves several self-care techniques, a dietary detox, and yoga postures.

This morning I woke and gave myself a massage followed by a hot bath.  This technique called abhyanga is done by applying body oil in circles on the joints and all over musculature to relax and de-stress the body.  I followed this up with a hot shower…great start to the day.

The base of the dietary detox is kitchariand herbal tea.  I had both of these prepared ahead of time and enjoyed them throughout the day.  Surprisingly, I felt full and satisfied all day.  Even during and after the 2 hour yoga class I took with Kelly Gardener at The Bindu!  This class designed for teachers and advanced students was amazing…I would suggest everyone check her out. 

This evening I was feeling need to munch a little so I did have some steamed veggies, which is allowed on the Ayurvedic detox diet if you feel you need something extra.  I enjoyed the steam veggies with a little salt and pepper.  I have to confess that I did give into one of my weaknesses and had 1/2 of a caffeine free diet Sundrop.  I know!!!  So bad, but I cut out the coffee and wine and any sugars today. I am pretty proud of my first day of detox:)

I will let you know how the rest of the week goes.  I have done many detoxification programs.  My body usually responds well to detox, and I have never had any drastic reactions to a cleanse.  A cleanse always leaves me feeling lighter, more energetic and more focused.  Not only am I eating lighter and eliminating unhealthy choices, but I remaining present throughout your day.  The foods I eat during detox are prepared and eaten with intentions of nourishing my body for sustaining, not for feeding for taste or pleasure or performance.  While I eat, I notice each bite and think about how different it is than what I usually eat.  When I do add something to the cleanse (i.e. steamed veggies or an organic apple), I am so grateful and enjoy those foods so much more than I usually do.

The cleanse is not just a dietary or intestinal cleanse.  It is really a cleanse for the whole body and mind.  It is like hitting the RESET button.  It makes you slow down, appreciate, and create a new baseline for health in your life.   I like that this cleanse includes mindful practices such as yoga, meditation, and abhyanga.  It carries the thoughtfulness of eating during the cleanse into the other elements in my life.  The fall detox is all about acknowledging the business of life and slowing down, restoring the body, and engaging in a slower pace, or at least a more ‘present pace’, for the fall and winter.

I will keep you updated on the progress this week.  The cleanse is intended for up to 7 days.  We’ll see how long I last 🙂  I am feeling a little tired this evening, but at 10 pm that is what I should be feeling!  Getting ready to hit the sack and rest up for what tomorrow brings!

Hopefully, my entire blog will load this evening.  So sorry for the missing paragraph or two that mysteriously disappeared into cyberspace when it loaded.  I hope that with the “comment” I made at the end you were able to figure out my complete thought!

Today things seemed to never be complete.  I kept getting stopped in the middle of tasks and having to take two steps back for every step forward.  The morning started just as dis-jointed as always…load coffee maker, get a cup of milk for one little guy, pour water in coffee maker, load the high chair with a few more Cheerios, turn the coffee pot on, cook oatmeal, load the dishwasher, wipe the messy face in the high chair, remove oatmeal from the stove to give to the big boy, load the washing machine, get back packs ready…well, you know how that goes.   Later, I tried to go running with my littlest munchkin, only to be texted by my husband in the middle to ask if I left some formula on the counter that I would need.  Well, wouldn’t you know I would need that to feed John-John in about 30 minutes when he got a little hungry.  So, I cut the run short and headed home to grab the milk before I went to our next activity.  The day went much like that from there.  When I sat down to do the bills, an email came through that drew my attention to another matter to finish up, then the phone rang.  It was for my husband so I ran upstairs to get him.  I started to cook dinner and my oldest son needed to get dressed for soccer.  It just starts to make you feel almost like a failure.  “I cannot get anything done”.  But, finally, this evening, after I sent my oldest son and husband off to soccer, I took my youngest son out again in the stroller to finish our run.  I realized that, while my day may be choppy and unpredictable, I do get things done.  They may not be in the order and the time that I like, but they get done.  I started my run at 10 am, and I finished it at 6 pm; and, that is OK!

This is such a yoga lesson.  Sometimes in class you come into poses that you think you will master only to find that today is not your day.  Sometimes you expect to stay in pigeon a long time because that is what your hips are screaming for, but the teacher has only alloted a few seconds for this posture before moving to the next.  And, more often than not, if you are trying to quiet your mind, the only thing you can do is pull up your “to-do list”.  But, it is a practice and you have the next day to try those postures again, to quiet the mind finally.  You get the job done, when it is time to get the job done.

So, tomorrow, my day will be just as choppy, just as disjointed and just as unpredictable.  But, that’s ok; because, I am getting the job done.  I am a mom and a wife and a runner and a yogi and friend.  A life as abundant as that cannot help but to be interrupted once in a while.  I will try to be grateful for the interruptions tomorrow!  I propose to all the moms (and dads) out there that we quit beating ourselves up about what we haven’t completed, and totally embrace the craziness that is our lives.  Because truly – we all rock!

I was struggling today with what to write about and then I thought of my running and yoga group last night, and I thought I about committment and  then I thought, “That’s it!  That’s what is screaming at me this week!!”.

Use this restorative pose to relieve aching legs and calm the mind

My running and yoga group exemplified committment last night in practice.  They meet at 7:45 and last night we did Running from the Core.  So, not only did they rock out a hill run in the heat, but then their yoga practice consisted of warming core work and twists in a yoga room that seemed to be heated a little more than usual last night.  Everyone was “wrung out” to say the least.  But, everyone stuck it out.  They stayed present and moved through the postures until the yummy end of legs up the wall.  In one word, they committed.

So, whether it is exercise or diets or just writing this blog 5 times a week (my new commitment to you and to myself), you just have to do it.  I guess it was back int he early 90s that Nike said “Just Do It”.  That slogan may be old, its words hold true.  Life isn’t going to slow down for us to try new things or start back to routines.  Life doesn’t stop so that we have time to get healthier.  And, life certainly isn’t going to hold our hand and motivate us through the world.  It is our decisions, actions, and commitment that help us navigate to success.

So, while I am still not starting the detox tonight, I did get this blog written.  Check.  I did practice yoga today for a full hour.  Check.  Maybe I can whip up the kitchari tonight be before bed and you guys can hear how it tastes in the morning 🙂

What are some of the things you have committed to and stuck with this year?  Are there things you have been putting off?  Let us hear about them!  Sometimes putting it out in the universe helps to get things started!

Seva refers to volunteer work or selfless service in the yogic tradition.  But I think the word is even bigger than that definition makes it sound.  I found an explanation from Swami Niranjan where he explains the word seva as being, 

“made up of two words, ‘saha’ and ‘eva’. Saha means ‘with that’ and eva means ‘too’. The word seva means ‘together with’ and is describing those actions that seek collective upliftment through an understanding of the needs of others and are based on togetherness and integration. Seva is an expression of compassion, of the desire to uplift and assist people.”

Photos by Wanda Koch Photography - http://www.wandakoch.com

At Yoga Jam North, over 85 yogis came together to exercise seva.  Coming together as a community of yogis, we were able to donate $805 to the Junior Charity League of Concord. 

We also donated as a group…

7 sweatshirts

7 sweatpants
 
30 shirts

1 pair of jeans

30 pairs of socks

29 sets of underwear

1 coat

11 sticks of deodorant

26 tubes of toothpaste

34 cartons of floss

26 toothbrushes, and

6 bars of soap!!!

Items donated to JCL of Concord from Yoga Jammers

OM-MAZING!  To me this signifies something much bigger then some folks getting together to sweat, chant, breathe and flow.  It shows the innate goodness in all people.  It is an example of our connection to each other on a far bigger scale than what we talk about everyday.  The “energy” we all felt that day was the connection of people caring enough to extend themselves beyond comfortable limits to do 3 yoga classes in one day!  It was the connection of people caring enough to take time away from their families to be with friends, peers, and strangers for an entire Saturday.  It was the connection of people willing to give money and articles of clothing so that someone else could have that money instead.  And the energy is infectious.  Many of you probably told others of your experience, and they felt the connection and inspiration of seva.  The children that come the clothing room at the JCL of Concord this year will feel the effects of  your seva.  A dear friend of mine is Divine Shanti Yoga who donated a beautiful basket for our raffle this year.  She recently wrote in her blog,  

“Like all matter, our homes have the ability to absorb energies that inhabit there. These energies can remain within a structure for many years, which means that if there were past inhabitants, their energies still reside there as well.” 

The energy you felt was the good work that the women of the Junior Charity League have been doing for years, the gratitude of the children that come into the clothing room, and the energy that your fellow yogis brought with them.  You left your mark this past Saturday and that beautiful energy will remain in the walls for years to come.  THANK YOU!

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Wanda Koch Photography

I am still reeling from the weekend.  Yoga Jam North was a HUGE success.  I was flooded by positive energy that expanded through the room and out the doors and into lives of so many people!  Some already were effected and changed by that energy if they attended the event;  and, some do not even know they will be touched by the energy – those children that are invited to the Junior Charity League of Concord’s clothing room will be forever changed by the money you donated and the clothing you sent for them.  It is an amazing accomplishment for all of you that gave your Saturday to attend, teach, and be a part.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  I will follow this up with many more details and many more “thoughts” about the impact of the day once I have completely downloaded the “biggness” of it all;  But, I just wanted to start the week off right with a little gratitude.

Be Still and Know - painting by Susan McMurry

 
 
 
At some point during the day we all had the opportunity to “be still” and in that moment we all “knew” we part of a larger community of people who care and who can make a difference as a group.
 

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Wilmington, NC

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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