while I’m gone.

seated namaste selective focus

You guys, I’m taking a three week sabbatical from work.  Incredible opportunities for service, teaching, family time, and travel all coalesced in one month (July) and I’m taking advantage of ALL OF them!  (I mean, who can say no to officiating your best friend’s wedding?  or teaching meditation to high school kids at church camp? or road-tripping in an RV with your parents for 3 days to reach the great state of Washington? or camping/hiking/climbing your way back to KCMO from the Pacific Northwest with your soon-to-be-husband?…not me!)

I plan on returning to my blessed teaching schedule on July 24; I will miss you dearly. However, I promise to return feeling refreshed, invigorated and inspired!

And in the meantime, I’ve been diligently bolstering my Guided Meditations for you.

Summer is the absolute best– the days are incredibly long and fun-filled.  However, summer can take advantage of us, keeping us always on the go.  Taking a minute to ‘be still’ is an underestimated part of a balanced life style.

While I’m away, I’m leaving you one HUGE Meditation Challenge:

Spend 7 minutes in stillness every day for the entire month of July.

  1.  Sit outside and watch insects play on flowers.  (Read this Meditation Thought Monday which includes Mary Oliver’s The Summer’s Day.)
  2. Sit inside and simply allow your breath to bring you back to the Center of who you are.  (Read this Meditation Thought Monday challenge along the same lines.)
  3. Sit anywhere and try one of my new Guided Meditations.  You can access these audio files anywhere at any time and think of me…

I’ll be missing you!

Much love and Happy (summer) Meditating,

-lisa

Here’s a sneak peek at one of my favorite techniques: 

 

how to practice daily.

standasana modified

It’s time to make your own tradition. Something that YOU, here and now, can establish to bring you closer to enlightenment. Or at least make your day a little easier.

Sometimes, I feel like ‘doing yoga’ (aka, practicing weird and challenging asana poses that an Indian guy conjured up a few hundred years ago or that a random yoga teacher put on YouTube yesterday) is like eating caramel ribbon brownies and homemade ice cream every day.  It sounds like a good idea, until you do it every day.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love moving my body with my breath and finding a moment of complete flow with life, but sometimes I just want to sit down do nothing but watch robins hop around in my backyard. (Or more accurately, I want to sit with Russell Clive on the couch and watch The Office on Netflix.)

A few students reached out to me recently and asked for help structuring their yoga classes into their week and figuring out an attendance routine that works for them. (You can read my post here about how to stay accountable and make time for yoga.)  Unfortunately, their requests started off with apologetic/delirious guilt-talk:  They were feeling guilty and not like a ‘real yogi’ because they couldn’t practice the Ashtanga Primary Series every day because they had kids’ karate lessons to attend, low backs that felt pain after three consecutive days of practicing, animal shelter benefits to run, ailing parents to take care of, or generally had any semblance of a life outside of a yoga studio. (I think this life exists… I’m not sure, though. Actually, I was just at the airport and I noticed everyone wearing yoga pants except for the TSA agents. So maybe everyone does spend their entire day running between yoga classes. All signs point to yes.)

And then they had other questions about how to schedule their yoga practice: What if they just wanted to do something different???  What about a hard-core sweaty Vinyasa class?  What about a deep stretch yin yoga class?  What about a relaxing restorative yoga class?  What about a yoga sleeping-laughing-toad catching- metal forging-class set to a Pearl Jam soundtrack? Choices: endless.

So my advice?  Find something to do every single day that makes you HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY! (That’s three times, so you know it’s important.)

Tradition are great; they are evidence that some person, somewhere, at some time, made up a routine of doing something and found enlightenment. Or at least found their day to be easier.

Traditionally, yes, maybe the original Ashtanga Yogi’s practiced the Primary Series at 4:30 am 6 days a week and then took Saturdays off.  Traditionally, the original Ashtangi’s didn’t have 3 kids in elementary school, two fluffy dogs that never stopped shedding, an SUV that needed maintenance, Facebook accounts to keep updated, and a fulfilling career.  Traditionally, the original Ashtangi’s didn’t fly to work Monday through Thursday in Toledo and then jet back to KCMO for Friday Night Buck Night at the Royal’s with their grandkids.  So maybe their tradition isn’t very useful to you, to your low back, or to your happiness quotient.

It’s time to make your own tradition. Something that YOU, here and now, can establish to bring you closer to enlightenment. Or at least make your day a little easier.

Remember, yoga isn’t exercise.  Yoga is a study and a science of calming the mind waves in order to achieve freedom from our habits, our un-checked assumptions, and our fears.  It’s a calculated system of ethical living, breathing, attention, concentration, moving and meditation that just  makes your life happier. (There are a bajillion physical healing benefits to the poses as well: lowering blood pressure, healing nerve issues, strengthening bones and alleviating pain of all types, but that’s a different topic for a different day.)  So, whatever yoga you choose: Practice in a way that you can practice tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

wider for bc

So, whatever yoga you choose: Practice in a way that you can practice tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

Practice asana gently to avoid intentional suffering  and do something that makes you feel happy.  Yesterday, my yoga was an hour spent weeding my neighborhood organic garden plot.  (Happy and dirty!)  Today, it was one hour of Ashtanga Second Series with fifteen minutes of pranayama followed by a walk with my Russell Clive through the Kansas City Rose Garden. (Happy and sunkissed!) Tomorrow, it may be two hours of sweaty asana practice at Maya Yoga followed by mindfully cleaning my kitchen. (Happy and clean!)  The next day it may be ten minutes of breath meditation before I teach followed by a road-trip to St. Louis during which I say hello to every cow we drive past and delight in the robust green of Midwest Spring.  Maybe I’ll get out of the car and ‘yoga-stretch’ at Quick Trip, but whatever, the point is: Your Yoga can be ANYTHING.  On the mat, off the mat, in the morning, in the evening, in your body or in your head.  Anything that brings you into mindful, present-moment, wonderful awareness and draws you to a place of stillness where you practice compassion and self-care is YOGA.

So, please do this every day.  You will feel happy, happy, happy!

(And, please, come to my classes. That too. You should definitely come to my classes.  As often as you can. You’ll be happy, trust me.)

Happy Practicing,

-lisa

make no plans.

desert free

I landed at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with virtually no prepared plans. I had a Hertz rental reservation and one night booked at a random motel in East-Jesus Nowhere which looked a little bit close to Sedona on Google Maps. I had 36 hours of complete disregard for schedules and expectation before I was due at my Yoga Medicine Training retreat. My only ‘had-to’ was to cram-study for the anatomy portion of my training; I’d been so caught up with studying, finishing up work, and teaching yoga in the weeks leading to my departure that I practically forgot to think about how I’d spend my first two days of free time once I got to Arizona. I didn’t have any plans. My plans could change at any moment.  I had no idea how to make this work. But somehow, I made it work.

Sure, some things were not-so-ideal: my phone died 5 minutes into a 2 hour hike; I had no GPS navigation for half the day so I actually had to (shocking! I know) read a map, remember directions, and show up at a restaurant without thoroughly exploring their menu prior to choosing it.  My e-reader wouldn’t connect to the hotel’s wifi to download a new book to read so I actually had to (shocking! I know) eat an entire meal in silence, savoring each bite, with nothing to read or distract me from the sun on my face and the nourishment in my salad. The only Voltage plug-in to be found in my rental car was in the trunk, so I had to drive for hours without Pandora music and bear witness in silence to the red rolling hills and desert brush playing tag with cloud shadows. My iPhone was still dead as I snuggled between the hotel pillows that evening, so I had to go to sleep without checking InstaGram to see what I’d missed during one day away from Real Life or setting an alarm for the next morning. My non-plans were clearly more nourishing to my soul than my plan-plans would have been.  

IMG_5544[1]

this is me, before my phone died. wanted my IronMan and Russell Clive to know I was safe and covered in sunscreen.

I read once that an adventure without a mishap is just a vacation.  Does it go the other way around? Can a vacation with a mishap turn into an adventure?  

When did you most recently venture into the unknown, without a schedule or a plan or an expectation?  When did you most recently open yourself up to the possibility of an adventure stumbling into your day? When did you most recently vacate your plans and just allow the day to reveal itself?  What did you feel when you set down your schedule?  What did you see when you set aside your device?

What happened when you showed up with no expectations and no plans?  You may want to try this on the yoga mat.  

IMG_5547[1]

Personally, I have huge admiration for students who show up to my Vinyasa and Hatha Classes.  They have no idea what to expect, (other than excellent, alignment-based and anatomically-wise sequencing, of course). They aren’t sure if I’m going to decide to teach a class focused on inversions or balance or strength; if I’m going to stop the class in the middle and tell jokes (I am one of the top 5 funniest people I know, after all); or if they will leave class emotionally raw from the deep Soul questions pose during meditation.

I am always in awe at how much trust my students have in me; I feel humbled every day when they drag themselves out bed at 5:30 am or leave work 2 minutes early in the evening to make it to class on time. They have plans, no agenda, no expectations for what they will encounter. They leave their security blanket (aka SmartPhone) at the door when they step into the practice room and open themselves up to the yearnings of their soul.

What a humbling expression of trust.

Not knowing what’s next on your agenda or what’s next in your life can be terrifying, but it can also be freeing. Sure, your phone will probably die and you might get lost, but your non-plans will probably end up being more exciting, more adventurous, and more nourishing to your Soul than your plan-plans. Summer’s almost here. I dare you to plan a micro-adventure with no plans, show up on your yoga mat with no set sequence in mind and play around with movement, and do something new and terrifying every day.

Let me know how your adventure goes, and what you notice when you allow life to reveal itself you to.

Happy Trusting,

-lisa

IMG_5531[1]

sometimes, the unknown beckons