Let the dead leaves drop

I really love that Rumi quote. “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” It’s such a great metaphor for allowing things that no longer serve us to drop and drift away.

As humans, we have a tendency to hold on to old news. We hold on to past hurts and stories, trauma and drama, he said/she said…

Let the dead leaves drop?
Ahhh…if  only it was that easy…

I keep a small garden in our backyard, and I’ve come to know tomato plants. Tomato plants don’t shed leaves as effortlessly as trees. Rather than the dead leaves (and branches) dropping, they continue to cling to the mother plant. It takes the help of a gardener with the right tools to come along and snip them off.

What happens next always seems like a miracle to me. A plant that was once weak and overtaxed with sustaining all the live parts while continuing to support the dead, will flourish and thrive once freed from what no longer serves it. A more abundant crop is then produced.

And so it is with humans. When we learn to release our old stories – when we let the dead leaves drop – we are free to flourish and thrive.

Is there something you could begin to let go of? Maybe it’s time to forgive someone (or yourself) for a past mistake. Maybe now would be a good time to let bygones be bygones and start creating new space in your life for something new and wonderful. What might you grow and nurture instead? How will the fruits of your labors be realized?

Let the dead leaves drop. And if you need the help of a “gardener,” I would love to lead your yoga practice to help you work on dropping what no longer serves you. {View a list of my weekly class offerings by clicking here.}

Be like a tree! Stand tall, drink lots of water, enjoy the view, and let the dead leaves drop.

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The day after 100 Days of Yoga

This 100 Days of Yoga project came about during a casual conversation with my daughter, Carrie. I was in need of a project – a little motivation – and she suggested I take on a 100-day challenge. “Maybe you could draw a mandala every day. Or post a yoga pose for 100 days…” she offered.

Oh, dear. The thought of sharing a photo of myself in a yoga pose for ONE DAY made me super squirmy, let alone ONE HUNDRED DAYS! It felt so vulnerable to even think about…no way…nuh-uh…

But then I had an idea. Rather than the slant of ‘here’s me in a yoga pose’, what if I posted something for 100 days with the intent of teaching the practice? What if I could share yoga in a way that would make it seem more accessible to more people?

So that’s what I set out to accomplish.

The first 10 days of my project were the most challenging. I fussed and fretted over photos of myself. I spent a lot time thinking about poses that my body could hold, and then judging my alignment in photos of myself. Around day 15, I freaked out a little and wondered how in the world I’d be able to see this project through. Could I really come up with another 85 days of yoga?

Also around day 15, things began to shift. I started receiving comments on my daily posts that validated my purpose with this project. I was sharing yoga in a way that made it seem normal and attainable. I began to feel more comfortable with my voice as a yoga teacher, and I began to feel more comfortable posting photos of myself in yoga poses. By stepping out of my comfort zone and moving through my own vulnerability, I was able to show others what was possible.

The majority of my daily posts were written on the same day I shared them. Some days I felt ahead of the game because I at least had a few photos to draw from. Other days I woke up feeling a little anxious, not knowing what I was going to share. Every day I felt a sweet sense of accomplishment when I clicked the button to share yoga.

Some poses warranted a bit more explanation and instruction, but there’s a 2,000 character maximum on Instagram, so I was challenged to keep it short and sweet.

Photos were also a bit of a challenge. The majority of my photos were self-portraits taken by beating the 10-second timer on my phone camera. I also enlisted the help of friends and family members, and they were so gracious about lending a hand.

So, what’s next? Well, I now have a nice collection of 100 yoga-related blog posts to draw from. I plan to group these practices into sequences to share at later dates. (For low back pain, practice days 10, 12 and 30…)

I’m also much more comfortable being “seen”, so I will continue to post photos and descriptions of other yoga poses in the future. I even have some ideas for videos that I’ll be sharing.

And!!! I’m working on a “100 Days of Yoga” book! I’ll be compiling my 100-day project into a self-published book, complete with photos and a few extra practices that weren’t shared during the 100 day timeframe.

My goal as a yoga teacher has always been to share the practice in a gentle and healing way. I believe that yoga has something for everybody. Every body. I want everyone to know the benefits of the practice, so I’ll keep walking this path and doing what I love to do.

I am so grateful for the love and encouragement shown to me over the past 100 days. Many thanks to those who left comments, liked my posts, and even shared them on the daily. I’m also very grateful to my yoga students who cheered me on throughout the past few months. You blessed me so with your support!

I hope you’ll continue to follow my yoga journey, and I sincerely hope your own journey will include a personal yoga practice.

With love and gratitude,

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100 Days of Yoga – Day 100 – Savasana

Day 100 of “100 Days of Yoga”!!!!

100/100 ~ Corpse Pose (Savasana) – Savasana feels so good at the end of class, we joke that *this* is the pose some people come to yoga for! Traditionally held as the final resting pose of a yoga practice, Savasana represents surrender. In this pose, we surrender to the effects of our yoga practice; we surrender to those things beyond our control.  Savasana can also be one of the most challenging poses for new yogis, as it invites us to let go, relax and be still. While the name (corpse pose) may seem morbid, the image of resting free of all burdens is, in fact, deeply beautiful.

When is the last time you felt wide awake yet completely relaxed? Savasana can take you there. Practice some yoga, stretch and breathe, then rest yourself flat on the floor. Come to know Savasana…come to know peace.

Benefits: Savasana releases stress from the body; calms the muscles, mind and nervous system; stabilizes the heart rate and blood pressure; boosts the immune system; and allows us to experience peace.

How to: Rest on your back with legs extended. Lengthen through the heels to stretch your legs, and then allow them to relax with the toes falling out. Gently lift the heart by tucking your shoulders down and under. Allow the arms to come away from the body with palms of the hands facing up. Draw the chin toward your chest, and press the back of your neck toward the mat. Relax all effort and let the head, neck and shoulders release. Close your eyes and allow the breath to flow naturally. Relax here for up to 5 minutes, appreciating the effects of your yoga practice.

Extra: Place a rolled blanket under the knees if that feels better for your low back.

Mantra: “I was made for moments like this.”

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100 Days of Yoga – Day 99 – Exalted Warrior

99/100 ~ Exalted Warrior  (Anjana Virabhadrasana) – The definition of the word exalted is: “in a state of extreme happiness.” Can you see that depicted in my stance? I invite you to hold this pose and notice the feeling it inspires. Conjure up a feeling of joy and exuberance while you physically hold this shape. So joyful!!!

Benefits: Exalted (or reverse) warrior strengthens and tones the legs, hips, back and torso. It’s a great stretch for the legs, glutes, hips, abdomen, chest and shoulders. This pose opens the body and creates space in the lungs to allow for deeper inhales. It opens the lung meridian where grief and sadness are held – releasing those qualities and fostering a sense of courage and well-being. Considered a power pose, this posture helps counter stress and anxiety, and is calming to the nervous system.

How to: Step your feet wide to create Warrior 2 (day 43) with your left knee bent. On an inhale, lift the left arm up and allow the right hand to rest on the right leg. Draw the left shoulder back and down, lift your heart and gaze upward. Equally press into both feet, open into the left side-body, and breathe deeply. Take time to notice how you feel in this pose, and soak in that feeling with every breath. Hold this pose for 2-6 breath cycles, coming back to Warrior 2 as a transition before stretching on the other side.

Mantra: “I am proud of my accomplishments.”

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100 Days of Yoga – Day 98 – Low Lunge

98/100 ~ Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) – This pose stretches deep into the psoas muscle and hip joint, so it packs a double punch. Practice this pose and you may notice relief from back pain. You might even notice a happier, more light-hearted disposition. Give it a try with that intention, and see how you feel.

Benefits: Low lunge pose deeply stretches the psoas muscle, glutes and hips. Releasing these muscles helps to relieve back pain and sciatica. This pose stretches the torso, upper back and shoulders; aligns the spine; builds strength and stamina; and opens the chest/heart-center to release tension and anxiety.

How to: From forward fold (day 32), step your right foot back for a lunge, and then scoot the toes back a little further to create a wider stance. Lower your right knee, and allow the top of the right foot to rest on the floor as well (use a folded blanket under your knee for support). Press into the left foot and align your left knee directly over the left ankle. Inhale as you lift the hands overhead, lifting the arms and the torso upward. Exhale, sink a little deeper into the hips. Focus on your breath here – feel the body rise and expand on the inhale, relax and sink a bit on the exhale. Hold this posture for 2-8 breath cycles, using downward dog (day 37) or forward fold as a transition before stretching on the other side.

Mantra: “I am courageous and strong. I can do great things!”

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