redefining gratitude

redefining gratitude

Two years ago, I took a yoga class that completely changed my life. It was taught by a teacher I had never met before or even heard of. She hadn’t produced any practice DVDs, her studio didn’t boast spa-quality facilities, and her class pricing package was ridiculously cheap: all her lessons were free.

I took only one hour-long class with May, and in that time, she redefined my adoration for life and taught me to redefine true gratitude.  

Our class was held outside… on a rainy day… in a small village in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia. The dappled African sun kissed our damp faces as we sat together in May’s yard, sharing the small stone ledge of her home’s foundation as a bench.  As we shared together, a chicken wandered out of her back door, stopping to peck near my feet before continuing on to the scavenge in the garden a few yards away. Class was also punctuated by a sweater-and-nappie-clad toddler who snuck in to extend formal greetings with a tentative handshake and smile. May shares a home with her two sons, three daughters, and one grandchild. Her husband had passed away several years prior and she was on her own to look after her children. Under the dripping branches of the tree that sheltered her tin-roofed home, May began her class by sharing her story.

photo cred EMA

photo cred EMA

Three years prior, May was so destitute that she did not leave her home for days at a time. Her body was so weak and her spirit so ravished that all she could do was lie on the dirt floor of her home, praying her children would not starve. May had just been diagnosed HIV+. She felt as if nothing she did would bring meaning back into her body or into her life. Then, a nurse in her community came to her home for a visit.  This visit changed May’s life.  The home-health nurse, known in the community as a Kafwa, encouraged May to seek treatment.

The Kafwa nurse came back the next day.  And the next.  And the next.

She assured May that her life was not over—assured her that healing was possible. This persistent caring proved to May that her life was worth living, and May’s adoration for life began to develop again.  With treatment and encouragement, May began a slow recovery; eventually her children were able to go back to school.  One of her boys began attending high school, something May was very proud of.  She continued staying healthy, began learning new skills in order to bring income to her home, and visited the treatment clinic as scheduled. As she told her story, joyful animation crept into May’s once exhausted voice.  The class ended with a prayer, a chant, a celebration of gratitude for love, for healing, and for life.

photo cred EMA

photo cred EMA

Leaving May’s home, I slipped and slid through rain-washed roads that demanded concentrated finesse to navigate.  I pictured her walking these roads, weak with illness, to the local clinic to seek medical attention.  I was in awe of her dedication to her yoga.

May’s disciplined practice was to stand up, show up, and move.  From this practice, May rediscovered the joy in simply being alive, simply being able to breathe, simply being able to move.  And now, her gift was to teach others the joy to be found in living with gratitude for every single moment.  May’s class taught me the most profound lesson of the human experience without doing a single asana.

She taught me that to practice with presence is to be grateful you can practice at all.

photo cred EMA

photo cred EMA

Now, every class I teach, I end with the earnest suggestion to engage in gratitude.

I truly believe that the deepest lesson that physical asana practice teaches is to be grateful for our bodies and what they can do, be grateful for our chance to move and breathe, and be grateful for the many things in our lives that bring us joy.

Come.  Practice with me and extend deep gratitude for every moment in life.  It is, in fact, the only reasonable response to being alive.

-lisa

April 008

photo cred HM

holiday special ($5 a class!)

small lotusHoliday Special!

For the month of December…a holiday special on Sunday Night classes!

All Beginning Yoga and Meditation classes  at Liberty Community of Christ Church are only $5 per person (drop-in only, no session discounts).  

If the holiday season is a time when you begin to think, “I really don’t have time to do anything for myself”…. that’s all the more reason to come breathe with us.  Take the time to nourish yourself so that you can be a blessing to others, striving to live a life filled with compassion for yourself and for your community.

Classes are held at 5:30 pm on:

Sunday December 1

Sunday December 8

Sunday December 15

Classes will resume in January.

Liberty Community of Christ Church, 1220 W. Liberty Drive, Liberty MO, 64068

Please bring your own mat and your own yoga block to class.  Contact lisa at: ash.lisamarie at gmail for more information.

 

the sacred is in every moment

Sacred traditions abound as we move into autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere.  This November we honor Diwali, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving as celebrations of sacred community.

photo cred EMA

As I move forward into the holiday season, my yoga practice helps keep me grounded.  It helps me remember to spend time in gratitude after every practice.  It helps me remember that the Sacred is actually present constantly, not just on holidays and holy days.

This quote is my favorite reminder:

“The Sacred is in every moment.

And if we find it—by paying attention to our breath, or the feel of the Earth beneath our feet, or the light in our child’s eyes—if we find it (by being present), we stay focused and disciplined.

When we find it, we reconnect with an infinite wellspring of motivation, inspiration, and love.

-Sivananda Yoga Teacher, Swami Ben Ralston 

Read more at: http://benralston.blogspot.com

gratitude

2013-09-23 19.55.57-7

photo cred: SFA

redefining gratitude

Two years ago, I took the most life-changing yoga class ever designed.  It was taught by a teacher I had never met before or even heard about.   She hadn’t produced any practice DVDs, her studio didn’t boast spa-quality facilities, and her class pricing package was ridiculously cheap: all her lessons were free.

I took only one, hour-long class with May, and in that time, she taught me everything about adoration of life and refining gratitude.

Our class took place outside, on a rainy day in a small village in the Copperbelt Region of Zambia. The dappled African sun kissed our damp faces as we sat together in May’s yard, sharing the small stone ledge of the home’s foundation for a bench. As we shared together, a chicken wandered out of the back door, stopping to peck near my feet before continuing on to the maize growing in the garden a few yards away. Class was also punctuated by a sweater-and-nappie-clad toddler who snuck in to extend formal greetings with a tentative handshake and smile. May shares a home with her two sons, three daughters, and one grandchild. Her husband had passed away several years prior and she was on her own to look after her children. Under the dripping branches of the tree that sheltered her tin-roofed home, May’s began her class by sharing her story.
Three years prior, May was so destitute that she did not leave her home for days at a time. Her body was so weak and her spirit so ravished that all she could do was lie on the dirt floor of her home, praying her children would not starve. May had just been diagnosed HIV+. She felt as if nothing she did would bring meaning back into her body or her life. Then, a nurse in her community came to her home for a visit. This visit changed May’s life.  The home health nurse, known in the community as a Kafwa, encouraged May to seek treatment. The Kafwa nurse came back the next day. And the next. And the next. She assured May that her life was not over—assured her that healing was possible.

This persistent caring proved to May that her life was worth living, and May’s adoration of life began to develop again.  With treatment and encouragement, May began a slow recovery, and her children were able to go back to school. One of her boys began attending high school, something May was very proud of. She continued staying healthy, began learning new skills in order to bring income to her home, and visited the treatment clinic as scheduled.

 As she told her story, joyful animation crept into May’s once exhausted voice. The class ended with a prayer, a chant, a celebration of gratitude for love, for healing, and for life.

Leaving May’s home, I slipped and slid through rain-washed roads that demanded concentrated finesse to navigate. I pictured her walking these roads, weak with illness, to the local clinic to seek medical attention. I was in awe of her dedication to her yoga. May’s disciplined practice was to stand up, show up, and move. From this practice, May re-discovered the joy in simply being alive, simply being able to breathe, simply being able to move. And now, her gift was to teach others the joy to be found in living with gratitude for every single moment. May’s class taught me the most profound lesson of the human experience without doing a single asana.

She taught me that to practice with presence is to be

grateful you can practice at all.

Now, every class I teach, I end with the profound suggestion to engage in gratitude.

I truly believe that the deepest lesson that physical asana practice teaches

is to be grateful for our bodies and what they can do, be grateful for our chance for life, and be grateful for the many things in our lives that bring us joy.

Come practice with me and extend deep gratitude for every moment in life.  It is, in fact, the only reasonable response to being alive.

-lisa

bakery goodness: vegan pumpkin bread

So. It’s pumpkin. And it’s bread. And it’s vegan.  It speaks for itself.

Note: contrary to previous custom, I will include measurements for this recipe, as baking often necessitates measuring. (So my sister says. I generally feel otherwise.) Feel free to modify quantities.

bakery goodness: vegan pumpkin bread

Image

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups almond meal flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350℉.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.  Line a bread pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In a second bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, apple sauce, maple syrup, and water.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; fold all of the ingredients together. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 to 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the bread rest in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack, peel off paper.

Enjoy!

Polished, professional and perfectly serene

photo cred: SFA

When Maya Yoga student Kim Saunders offered to shoot individual photos of our instructors to update the Maya Yoga website, owners Kathleen Kastner-Mortenson and Wade Mortenson jumped at the chance to work this talented artist.  I was the first model: Kim was dedicated enough to conduct our shoot right after my 6 am class ended!

The sun continued to rise throughout our shoot, creating an intriguing balance of shadow and light.  With each shot, we adjusted, re-adjusted, and re-adjusted again.  Kim continued to search for most harmonious balance of effort and ease.  The results are simply stunning.  Polished, professional, and perfectly serene.

Thank you for these gorgeous photos, Kim.  What a blessing you are.

photo cred: SFA

photo cred: SFA

To learn more about Kim and book her to capture your next life event, visit Saunders Fine Arts at http://www.saundersfinearts.com/about.html