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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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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.

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 ūüôā¬† 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!

 

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

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…

Hello everyone!¬† It has been far too long since my last post.¬† After my last post, my home sold.¬† As many of you know, this was a blessing as we had been trying to sell for over a year.¬† My husband’s job had taken him to another city, and we had all decided to be together in this new city, so to finally sell our home was wonderful – but BUSY.¬† In the past 3 months, we have sold our home, done inspection repairs, packed up and stored our home, lived at the lake for a month, moved to Wilmington, unpacked our home, and tried to keep some sort of normal, fun life for our family.¬† It has presented many adventures, but we are now settled and ready for the adventures here in Wilmington.

I am not teaching this summer.  I am going to take a little break and enjoy our new town.  It will also allow me time to research the Wilmington yoga scene and see what it has to offer.  I will be returning to the Charlotte area in August and possibly again in the fall, so stay tuned for details and come visit me!

As always, change is the only constant in life, so I embrace the new surroundings and see what life has to offer in this new city.¬† I miss everyone in Concord and Charlotte and intend to visit often. I remember writing my “good-bye” to the studio¬†about a year and half ago.¬† I re-read today and so much stays true.¬† While on the surface it seems that, the sell¬†of the business did not turn out the way we wanted, I believe the intention behind it did stand true.¬† I hoped that the healing and loving community we started many moons ago would continue.¬† The studio eventually closed after I sold it, but I see that the community stood strong on its own.¬† There are so many folks that graduated from teacher trainings and are doing their own classes all over Concord and surrounding areas.¬† There are students that have gone on to do more intensive study in areas of yoga and meditation and have transformed their lives.¬† There are folks seeking out “more” because they finally realized how important their practice was to their life.¬† It is inspiring.¬† And, I definitely¬†feel the intention of¬†studying more¬†and developing more trainings and workshops myself has held true.¬† I have grown as a teacher over the past year due to being able to practice and learn more myself.

I think in reflecting to over a year ago things happened just as they should.  I still have such a strong relationship with so many of you, and as a yoga community you are strong.  I guess the moral of the story for me is set my intentions, work towards my intention daily, but be open to different outcomes and possibilities.  It always ends up better than you could have expected even if you could not imagine it to happen.

Thanks again for so many wonderful memories and a great yoga family for which to return.

To start…here are some links to articles that have been in the yoga community lately.¬† If you do not have an understanding of the controversy/conversation, then you may want to skim or read these articles before reading my blog this time.

CNN

Huffington Post

New York Times

The conversation I want to have today¬†really centers around what is good yoga and what is quality yoga instruction and how can we replicate it many times over.¬† I say that you cannot.¬† No one can develop a training manual, teach a group of students, and create a set of standards that will make a good yoga instructor.¬† Good yoga instruction does not come from knowing correct alignment.¬† Good yoga instruction is not being able to recite Patanjali’s¬†Yoga Sutras forward and backward.¬† Good yoga instruction is not being able to demo every arm balance of yoga and calling ques from full lotus.¬† All of these things are good things for a yoga instructor know, be able to do, and be part of a practice, but it does not make you “good”.¬† Good yoga instruction comes from a teacher who authentically, mindfully, and truthfully teaches the philosophy of yoga as it relates to his or her students; guides the asana from a safe and effective point of view; and, encourages the student to find awareness and depth in their own practice.¬† This can not be taught, but is developed over time with consistent practice and self exploration.

There are thousands of different ways to approach yoga Рdifferent schools of yoga, different lineages of teachers, different styles.  We all connect to yoga in different ways.  I teach lots of atheletes.  For them, starting a yoga practice is sometimes easier in a power yoga setting because it mimics what their body is use to in their sport.  They feel an adrenaline rush, they get a little sweaty, they challenge themselves.  This makes starting the journey into yoga feel a little safer.  Once fully comfortable with the physical practice the mental and emotional depth the practice of yoga brings is then able to emerge.  I was much this way.  As a young yogi, I started in a hot class because my stiff, atheletic body felt better there.  I then found that the power moves made me feel accomplished like the way athletics had.  As my practice grew, I found my way to balance:  enjoying the gentler side of yoga at times, using restorative yoga for recovery, and learning that meditation helped me train just as much as the physical practices.  This was MY process.  This is how I fully found MY yoga.  I then became a teacher so that I could share that with others.

Other people do not have the connection to their physical body the way athletes do.¬† The arm balances¬†and chaturangas¬†are intimidating.¬† They approach yoga from the subtler side of the practice.¬† Exploring pranayama and meditation first with gentle yogic moves to awaken the body.¬† But, over time these people start to connect to their bodies in new ways.¬† I have a student now that I teach privately.¬† She started a yoga practice after not “working out” in over 10 years.¬† We started with lots of mediation, breathing, and restorative/gentle poses.¬† Over time this work has allowed to her find her “power”.¬† She is feeling stronger, balanced, and confident.¬† In this¬†approach, yoga still found balance, but the path was a little different.¬† Neither one better or worse; neither one needing to be judged.

In the end, yoga is about union.  It is the joining of the physical body to mental clarity and ultimately spiritual awakening.  We cannot judge the path by which a person gets there.  As a yoga teacher, we can only be a facilitator of the process.  As a teacher it is our ethical responsibility to know what we are teaching and to teach what we know effectively.  We need to give our students the tools they need to succeed.  We need to live our yoga and be shining examples to the students in our life.  We need to speak truthfully with intention to never do harm.  Through moderation and balance in our practice and the ever-present act of self-study, we can know how to offer quality yoga to our students.  Practicing contentment will let us know as teachers that the students we have on any given day are just enough and exactly who we are supposed to be teaching.  And, with a pure heart, zeal for all of life, and a surrendering to the vast power the universe holds, we can approach our practice and our teaching humbly.  This is what makes good teachers.  This is why yoga can change your life and those around you.

If you are teacher, stay on your path and be confident in who you are and what you have to offer.  Seek out teachers that foster the innate abilities you already have and who will help to enhance your teaching.  Keep learning and growing everyday.  It will  happen for you Рone day you wake up to teach and realize you have settled into what is authentically you and all is right with the world.

If you are a student looking¬†for a teacher, it is an option to look to see if they have their 200 or 500 hour credentials.¬† But, that will not make a good teacher.¬† If fact, some amazing teachers do not have Yoga Alliance credentials.¬† But, that is a start.¬† Then it is trial and error process.¬† Go take from a variety of teachers in different styles.¬† Be mindful of your level of experience and ability and never do anything that doesn’t feel right in your body.¬† This will keep you safe from injury.¬† Find a teacher that speaks to you on multiple¬†levels:¬† the physical practice seems to be the right speed for you, mentally and emotionally you “click”, and the spiritual tones to the class are in line with your beliefs.¬† But, be open to new ideas and ways of looking at the world and yourself.¬† If you go to class with an open mind, you will find the right teacher.¬† It is said, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Don’t get me wrong teacher trainings and workshops are still great.¬† They are essential part of the process.¬† They just are not all of the process.¬† And, as I will discuss later this week, I think that the qualities mentioned above can be fostered in teachers before we need more regulations on the profession of yoga.

So, for what it is worth…this is my two cents on the conversations floating around in the yoga world right now.¬† There are a couple more facets to this argument I will explore later this week.¬† Then I’ll get back on board with my ramblings of yoga philosophy and my life ūüôā

Namaste’

Hello!

It has been quite awhile.¬† I could recount all the reasons why I have not blogged in a month, but we are all busy, so you all know why I haven’t been spinning words on WordPress lately.¬† Not to mention I have decided that I am not a “daily blogger”.¬† I had intentions at one point last year to post at least 4 or 5 times a week.¬† I realized that my writing just isn’t like that.¬† It is spontaneous and from an authentic place that is an outlet for me to express an opinion.¬† It felt too forced and fake when I gave my self parameters to post daily.¬† So, here we are without a post in about a month, but I promise good things to come!

I hope that the New Year has treated you all well.¬† I have been enjoying many new things in the new year.¬† One of which is a fuller work load.¬† I am teaching lots of yoga these days and dipping back into the massage-world also.¬† It is nice to be active in the community of healers around here.¬† I feel blessed to be part of it.¬† One thing I have realized while teaching more is that I learn more when I teach more.¬† Doesn’t sound right does it?¬† But, it is the truth.¬† I go to trainings, classes and workshops to learn new things.¬† I read and research to find more information.¬† I speak to people I respect as teachers and leaders in my chosen field.¬† BUT, the true learning, the complete comprehension of the material, does not happen until I actually teach it.¬† In this way, I am not only the teacher in class, but also student!¬† And vice versa.¬† If you are my student, you can also consider yourself my teacher.¬† This is a beautiful way to look at all of life.¬† As we move through life, we are always the student and always the teacher: exchanging information, transferring energies, and connecting each other through those exchanges.¬†

One of my favorite quotes from recent reading is,

“If you want to learn something, read about it.¬†If you want to understand something, write about it.¬† If you want to master something, teach it.”

Yogi Bhajan

We are all teachers, and we are all students – our entire life.¬† As a student, I read all the new information and commentary coming out about yoga and healing therapies.¬† I have typically stayed away from writing about any of the “hot topics” in yoga news.¬† I do not want my ideas to ever come across as political, one-sided, or controversial.¬† But, in an effort to completely understand some of the info and stories out there right now, I am going to begin to write about them.¬† As someone once said, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”¬†(I believe this is a country music song, but I am sure it is someone else’s quote¬†also ūüôā .)¬† I know I have something to say about the politics of the yoga community right now…hmmm….just going to take a while to get the thoughts organized so they are said in the right way.¬† More to come…

Look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and I hope to hear back from you with your opinions.  Do you have any topic that you feel passionately about now?  Anything you want me to get on my soapbox about?  The safety of yoga, the business of yoga, yoga ethics, etc.  Let me know.  Would love to hear what you are learning, understanding and teaching these days!

Fall is most definitely here now!  I love the mild temperatures, the crisp, fresh air, and the changing colors of leaves.  It just feels like a fresh, new beginning.  Sometimes beginnings are exciting.  The ability to try new things, start a new project, and venture into new territory.  But, beginnings can be scary.  They represent change and means letting go of some things that may have ordinarily made a person feel safe and secure.

I was reminded of this dynamic this weekend.  I was an attendant in a beautiful wedding ceremony of a dear friend.  Weddings are all about new beginnings.  Beautiful young bride marrying a handsome young man with fresh dreams of a life together, a family and many happy memories.  It also it the closing though of a chapter.  A father lets go of his little girl.  A mother sheds a tear for the years spent in worry and in caring.  A sister or brother remembers that special bond that will always be there but will forever be changed by that one moment.  It can all be hard and overwhelming.  The beauty in the union is that by the letting go of old ways and connections, new connections and an intercate web of friendships, love, and acceptance for a new life is born. 

Resistance to change is normal.¬† The beautiful connection that awaits you may not be as visible as the example of newlyweds.¬† Many times in life we resist change when due to fears.¬† Maybe we are scared of disappointment so we don’t ask for that job promotion.¬† Maybe fears of¬†rejection so don’t allow us to¬†ask the new person in the office out on Friday night.¬† Maybe you worry about stability so much you shrink back from opportunities to explore the world or go on trips because you feel you must always save your money just in case the bottom were to fall out.¬† And, maybe you simply are afraid of not being accepted by everyone out in this highly critical world¬† so you shrink from being exactly who you were intended to be.¬† All of these are real fears that everyone has all the time.¬† Many times it is these instincts that keep us from being impulsive and acting in irrational manners and making mistakes.¬† I think it is important to evaluate where we are in this spectrum all the time.¬† I think it is important to¬†evaluate whether we are¬†shrinking away from adventure¬†or being scared to step out of the box.¬† Like everything in our lives, we must find the balance.¬†

Fall is the perfect time to find this balance.¬†¬†This is a¬†season that will be more structured and regimented – school is back in session, vacations are over so workloads increase, and holidays quickly approach making your time management skills imperative.¬† In order to shake off some old habits that aren’t serving you and accept some new habits that will bring positive change, here are a few great “spring-cleaning” ideas for fall:

1.  Ask yourself what do you have too much of in your life?  Too much work, too much food, too much drama, too much judgment, too much fear???

2.  Ask yourself, what do you have too little of in your life?  Not enough acceptance, not enough patience, not enough money, not enough free time???

3.  Plot out a clear plan to draw balance between the first two questions.  Ex) Bring lunch to work so you can leave 1 hour early to get home in time to make it to yoga and fix dinner for yourself/family.  OR Plan on thinking 1 kind thought about each person you come in contact with each day.

4.  Eat whole foods and think about where they come from.  Make a point to draw in more nutritious, whole foods where you can actually think about the source of who grew, tended, and harvested those foods to nourish your body.  By bringing gratitude to more meals each day, you will find you are more intentional and deliberate with your choices.  A balanced body and mind starts with nutrition!

5.  Spend 10 min a day in meditation.  Taking 10 minutes to reset/recharge your day, will make you a more productive and clear thinking individual.

6.¬† Spend 30 min, 1 hour, 90 min…whatever you can build into your day, doing a healthful practice for you body to wear away at the gunk that is weighing you down and preventing change and positive growth in your life.¬† Do yoga, run, cycle.¬† Whatever action feels most authentic to you and you can feel the body letting go of fears, resentments, and obstacles.

Making a few intentional decisions each day will begin to clean away the clutter of your life and welcome the new beginnings that the fall season brings.  There is only one thing that is constant in this world РCHANGE.  Learning to embrace it and move with the seasons of life make this crazy train we are riding on seem more enjoyable and meaningful.

I will continue to write about my own fall “spring cleaning” and what this season of change brings for me.¬† Stay tuned¬†ūüôā

‚ÄúChange is a measure of time and, in the autumn, time seems speeded up. What was is not and never again will be; what is is change.‚ÄĚ
-Edwin Way Teale  

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 ūüôā¬† 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

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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