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“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!



Hello all!  Just a quick post to get back in the flow of things – no yoga pun intended 🙂

I have been taking what is now my annual (2nd year running) yoga teaching/blogging hiatus.  It is nice for me to have some time to step away from teaching and just practice yoga.  For these several weeks, I am never the teacher, but purely the student.  It gives me a new perspective, so that when I return to teaching, I can remember what it is like to be on the other side of the room.

This year it is a new experience also, because I am in a new town.  I have been sampling all that Wilmington has to offer on the yoga mat.  There are so many options in Wilmington for taking yoga, and I have not even hit all the spots yet.  I just wanted to speak to 3 separate experiences.

1.  Yoga at the gym

Normally, “gym rat” yoga, as it is known in many places, is not really my thing.  If you are my student, you know I like not only a physical practice, but a mental and spiritual practice  that yoga offers.  In gyms, many times it is only a physical experience and even then a very shallow one at that.  This is not always the teacher’s fault.  There are various reasons: types of students that attend, time limitations, lighting limitations, temperature in the room, noise from the rest of the gym and the list goes on.  It is hard to teach in a gym.  But, I have found a great class.  The teacher actually can control the temp of the room and she is offering the full package of yoga.  Now it still has its issues.  The lighting stinks so we basically practice in the dark and there are still “gym rats” that walk into the room in the middle of class after their run to “stretch”.  Can you believe I actually had someone sit their mat beside me about half way through class and then she proceeded to do her own warrior series while we were in savasana.  Can you say yoga etiquette??!!  The point is though the teacher does not let this throw her.  She is committed to providing a well-rounded yoga class that allows time for a physical practice as well as meditation, extended rest, chanting, and relaxation.  She is staying true to her yoga, and people are loving it.  Her class is full – in a gym – so that is a lot of people.  I always leave feeling I have gotten just what I needed that day and with a greater ease than when I came in.  She has created a little oasis of peace and relaxation in the middle of a busy gym.

2.  I visited the local hot yoga studio because they were running a special.  I preface this with I love hot yoga.  I love to sweat, and I love a physical challenge.  What I missed from this class was a connection to the teacher and to the community there.  The studio was HOT.  I was expecting this, but it was relentless heat – maybe 105 – and the humidity was crazy.  But, still that wasn’t the problem.  The studio has a set flow they teach.  They do not advertise this, and I many times tire of a set flow.    It seems to be a mix of Bikram, Baptiste, and maybe some others thrown together.  I cannot place the lineage and since the teacher has neither introduced herself to me or stays after class, I haven’t gotten a chance to ask.  But this still wasn’t my biggest problem.  My biggest problem with the studio is they do not get the whole class up together and close the class with salutation or a chant or anything.  They put you in savasana and then leave the room!  I had never experienced this before.  It left me feeling disconnected and incomplete.  I actually stayed much longer than anyone else to let myself feel settled before entering the world again.  BUT, they have a large following.  The room has been packed all 3 times I attended.  So, for some people this style of yoga must be working.

3.  Finally, I have been to local “power house yoga studio”.  By this, I mean they are the largest here by far.  They put out lots of yoga teachers through their trainings, they bring in big name yogis to teach workshops, and they have tons of classes all day long.  I have never been to a class there that I haven’t enjoyed in some way.  They have a variety of classes from restorative to hot to power vinyasa.  The teachers are always very well-trained, offer well-balanced classes, as well as meditation and relaxation.  I can tell the owner values the entire yoga experience as opposed to just a physical practice.  They have great temperatures, great lighting, cool setting, and lots of like-minded people in their community.  It creates a great vibe that makes you excited to practice and be part.  But, it is such a large community.  Crowded coming in and leaving.  People don’t seem to chat unless they have been in teacher trainings or workshops together.  The desk staff and some of the teachers introduce themselves but not always.  As a newcomer, I have not felt “accepted” into the community yet.

So, as someone who has been part of strong yoga community before, it has been hard to find the same flow and ease in Wilmington.  I am sure it takes time to make those relationships and connections.  What is interesting to me and what I wanted to share with you guys, is that the place I felt instantly at home and felt connected to my yoga, was in the very place I was expecting NOT to like.  I almost didn’t even attend any yoga classes at the gym we joined, because I fully thought I would not like it and not practice there.  Goes to show you what expectations can do to you.  If I had not tried yoga at the gym, my previous experiences and my stereotype of “gym yoga” would have prevented me from finding an awesome teacher and my best experience yet.  Lesson learned to lower my expectations and try things with a beginner’s mind.  I think that is a good, fresh perspective for living in a new town.  I should know this.  Yoga has taught me this time and time again.

What do you think about expectations?  Do they hold you back from something great?  Do they prevent you from finding happiness and fulfillment?  Or, maybe you think they help you and guide you in some way.  Maybe your experience has been different than mine.   Let me know your thoughts…

Many people may think that since we yoga teachers sit in the front of the room spouting phrases like, “be present”, “listen to your body”, and “know your limits and go there”, that we must have the most healthy mind – body connection known to man.  The TRUTH is that we are living the same practice we are encouraging you to live.  So while it is easy for me to repeat these phrases and write about yogic philosophy, the everyday application is just as hard for me.

The past few weeks I have struggled with a pain in my lower leg.  I secretly kept worrying about the fact that it could possibly could be a stress fracture, which would completely ruin my plans of a half marathon in December.  And, even though I secretly suspected a possibility of this injury, I still continued to run.  I knew that if I did have a stress fracture that continuing to train was the worst thing for my body. I knew that should slow down, but I didn’t.  I continued to run and took solace in the fact that I was also doing other recovery methods, such as ice baths, yoga, and manual therapy on the pain site. 

But, it continued to nag me, and I knew I should take a break.  Finally, I gave in and postponed off longer runs during the week.  I took a really honest look at my body and what it was feeling like.  I realized that I was over-pronating my ankles which I knew could lead to some stretching of the inner tissue of my lower leg.  I also took inventory of when and how much it hurt at different times.  With this new self-awareness, I set out on a long run on Sunday.  I was continuously present in my running; noticing how my stride felt, where my foot falls landed, and even how my breathing related to my posture and stride.  The run turned out to be fantastic, and I am happy to say that I am pretty sure I do NOT have a stress fracture.  YAY!

What I do have is a body that needs a little rest and recovery.  I have a body that needs a strength building week.  I had been so linearly minded in my goal for December, I had ignored all the things I knew about how a strong and recovered body makes a better runner.  I have decided to take this week off from running and dig deep into some strengthening practices of yoga that will not only stabilize my legs and hips, but also aid in flexibility for what I hope will be stronger body by the weekend.

This is how is my yoga and running and really life in general collide all the time.  If I take the time to get honest with myself (sayta) and evaluate what is going in my body and life (svadyaya), I can usually find the middle ground (brahmacharya) that brings balance and contentment (santosa) to my body and mind.

This week try to see if you can’t pick something in your life that seems slightly off-balance.  Maybe it is a physical pain in the body or maybe it is imbalance in a relationship or emotion.  Apply the principles of yoga to it.  Stay present.  Ask yourself what is out of balance.  Be truthful.  Find contentment with what is real.  See if some of these things do not help you to find the balance to heal.  Then let us know how it helped you!! 


As I discussed yesterday, we need to be ready to change with the seasons of our life.  Sometimes to do that it takes a little “clearing out”.  Well, today I have done 2 of the things I discussed yesterday.  First, I meditated for 10 min this morning.  Honestly, I did not get out of bed to do it but I was awake, I was focused and I was quiet.  Correction – IT was quiet.  Before anyone got up or yelled “MAMA” from the crib in the other room; before a little squirmy 5-year-old crawled in my bed for a morning snuggle; I remained quiet with my own thoughts.  Really that time in the morning seems to clear the “gunk” out of my head before I get bombarded with more.  I know we all say we don’t have time to meditate.  But, when I get really honest with myself there are moments during my day like this that I have.  It may not be perfect on a zafu, with a timer and some calming ocean noises in the background; But, it is time nonetheless.  And, today it made for a very peaceful morning in my household.  Like they say, when momma’s happy, everybody is happy!

Secondly, I took my littlest one out for a jog this morning in the stroller after we dropped off his older brother.  This too is a way to really clear out left over “gunk”.  I sweat out toxins that may have been consumed through food, and I melt away toxins that have been absorbed through other negative highways…i.e. self doubt, criticism, judgements, etc.  It leaves me feeling refreshed and energized.  Today on my run I realized that I was running at a time I normally have to be at home for my youngest to nap.  This little thought led to a big “AHA” about some freedom that has recently come into my life.  Now that I am not tied to my home in the mornings, there will be more time for me to do things like run with my babe.  But, freedom comes with responsibility.  And I know myself.  If I don’t constructively use this time it will waste away on things like Facebook and web surfing.  I committed during my run that tonight or tomorrow I will sit down and write a plan for this new time.   I will only check email during certain times so that I am not constantly filling holes in the day with computer.  This really seems to waste time and clog time with my family.  I will also devote certain time to writing, blogging, and class development.  This way I do not neglect any relationship in my life.  I will make quality time with my family, while still devoting energy to my own work and creative development. 

During this season of change for me, I realize I am moving from the all-consuming baby land, to the land of the toddler mom.  Very exciting!  Hope that with this intentional thought on clearing out and starting fresh, there will be more positive developments and changes.

What “seasons of change” do you see in your life or in the world around us??  I am interested to hear!!

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Wilmington, NC

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

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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