The new job has been keeping pretty busy. And I’ve been thinking about Martinis, despite not being able to post as much.
So, even though all my yoga lately has been done in a mat in my living room (and squeezed in sometimes while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, or while waiting for the tea to whistle…) I thought it might be nice to look back at the best of Mat Goes Here posts.
Check them all out here.
This January marks six years since this wily beast came into my life.
She’s curled up in a ball at my feet as I write this and I just love the little bugger. I know everyone says their dog is awesome, but I’m going to go ahead and insist that she’s really is the best. I mean, look at that face.
Her foster dog family named her “Lady Mellow,” and she truly is one chill pup. Originally I’d wanted to small dog, a carry-on. But even though I can’t take her on the subway, I love all 50 lbs of her every day. Here are some of my favorite “Daily Kaylee” shots from the last year.
This morning I lay in bed musing about the day, knowing that the longer I stayed under the covers, the less likely I was to roll out the mat. So I got up and looked at my yoga space – filled with mail that needed to be opened, a dog leash begging to be used, and a suitcase that lay stuffed and ready for unpacking.
It was tempting. First I’ll clean off the counter, put away all this stuff so I can set my drishti on a clear, uncluttered space. I could just take care of the mail rather than let it sit. If I’m moving the suitcase, I may as well unpack and throw a load of laundry in before I start. Then the dog is up and looking my way, ready for a walk.
That’s how it goes some mornings. The mat stays rolled up in the corner while a bunch of other things on the list get done. I want to make things as close to ideal as I can in order to practice. I want to clear the space, so I can clear my mind. I want a home studio that looks like the ones in the magazine. But at what cost? It’s not helping me to skip my practice until it can look perfect.
This morning I set up my mat amidst the chaos. The room was a mess. My body ached and my waistline spoke of too much Christmas pie. My nose was stuffed up and I couldn’t pranayam my way out of a paper bag, but I did it. I got down in chaturanga with elbows as close to 90-degrees as I can get them. My trikonasana was crooked, but existent. And it was good.
As January approaches (how did that happen?), I wanted to gather up some of your favorite posts from this year.
Kripalu: What I Pack This was THE most popular post of the year, for sure. And timely, as I’m heading back up to the snowy Berkshires right after the holiday. Update on this post: I’ve upgraded my water bottle and now use and love my this one from bk – a lovely part of my Blogshop goodie bag.
Yoga in Bed: 8 Poses to Wake Up To I know. Sometimes it’s just too cold or too comfy to leave the sanctuary of our beds.
This & That: Moon Salutations I’m sensing a real Yin vibe from you guys this year. I think this is another perfect posture series to do around the holidays.
Have a wonderful year-end celebration everyone. And thank you for coming with me on the adventure.
The best days I had in Rome happened whenever the plans got messed up, like when we slept through the alarm and missed a walking tour of Rome, only to spend the day walking through a tiny mountain town, out of the city rain. In Florence, I had one measly little tour planned and we completely missed it. Yet, we ended up standing at the feet of the David nevertheless, overwhelmed and awed.
It got me wondering why I bother getting so stuck to ‘the plan’ anyway. I’m not saying any forethought should go completely out the window – some of my absolute favorite meals were at restaurants we booked in advance – but letting go a little bit and leaving room for the wild and crazy made for a much better time.
Image found here.
I don’t talk about my day job very often on this site, other than to say I sit all day and type. What I do is advertise. Right now I write copy and come up with ideas to sell big cars. Big. Big. Cars.
It’s not exactly karmic. So I try to reach out and counteract my footprint in the ad world by doing some work for organizations I love and believe in. Project Giving Kids is such a worthy experiment in charitable service. It works to match kids and families with age-appropriate volunteer opportunities. Kids have this innate sense of justice and hope, and PGK fosters and supports that world view.
Project Giving Kids is in Beta right now, piloting their program in Boston. But they are looking to expand and take their message all over the country. I am so happy to see the site launch, and I can’t wait to see how they grow.
Check them out!
Image from one of Project Giving Kids’ partner organizations, Room To Grow.
I have been drawn to Ardha Chandrasana lately. For some reason, I can feel the dynamic tension between grounding and expanding so profoundly in this posture. The foot stable, roots deep through the mat, through the floor, into the earth below me. And my heart searching, yearning, turning upwards. It’s felt pretty amazing.
Am I drawn to it to relieve anxiety, to work my ankles, stretch my groin? Or is it that something inside me knows that ‘chandra’ can mean glittering, shining, brilliant light, and I’m approaching the idea of shining with everything I do?
Or maybe it’s just because I found a cool new way to come into the pose. I learned a long time ago to just do what my body wants when it comes to my time on the mat. I don’t ask too many questions.
Here’s my new entry into Ardha Chandrasana: (Here’s a more traditional entry.)
1. Start in down dog
2. Identify the point on your mat half way between your hands and your feet
3. Step the right food forward to that point
4. Adjust your right hand to be forward and to the right of your standing foot (like a kickstand or second leg)
5. Slowly, using your core, lift the back leg AS YOU rotate the body towards the side wall
6. Keep the left hand at your waist, or extend it upward to the sky, following it with your gaze
This is a pretty subtle variation to coming from triangle pose, but for me, I feel a big shift. It’s much easier for me to shift my gaze from my standing foot, to the sidewall, to my upward-reaching hand and shine.
Image from Fine Featherheads.
With the weather here in New York vacillating between fall-is-coming and nope-wait-it’s-warm, today felt really chilly. So, it seemed like the perfect time to post a reminder on warming up in the morning.
I like to keep my apartment on the cool side, but not everyone agrees. So I’ve been sleeping in shorts and still waking up hot. Even so, the cold weather can bring stiff joints and muscles.
If it’s a little brisk in your bedroom when you wake up, try some warming postures to get the blood flowing and the joints lubricated.
This one is a little more difficult to show with just one image, so I’m going to have to explain a bit.
– Start in a relaxed forward fold with your knees bent.
– Bend your knees even more. More. More!
– Until you’re basically in a squat with your knees bent and your hands on the floor to help stabilize you. Raise your head and look up gently.
– Inhale, and straighten your legs until you come into forward fold again
– Exhale, bend your knees into squat
– Repeat as slow or as quickly as you like to wake up the body and get warm.
First image from the lovely wit and delight. The second image of forward fold is from Kat Saks Yoga.
Confession: I went out for drinks last night. Yes! I did. And I did a really good job of it too. Cocktails. Sugary ones. At a fancy cocktail bar where my drink housed a single rectangular cube of ice, a stainless steel straw and a chewy, sugared ginger cube stuck on the side of my very tall glass. It was delicious. All three of them.
I’ve been cleansing out the breads and sugars from my diet, working to get my insides all in balance. And that was a big ol’ sugar bomb. Even the parts that weren’t sugar are probably turning to sugar as I type. Boom.
So what happens now?
Well, let me tell you something. I thought I would wake up with guilt stacked on tummy ache stacked on some long-term horror as yet to be unnamed. The tummy part was true, but screw the guilt. I’m back on track.
I’m drinking water and taking extra probiotics. this amazing salad (I skip the cheese and breadcrumbs). Thank you very much Dr. Weil. And I’m taking a ‘do not panic‘ approach. And aside from a headache, it feels pretty good.
More drinky drink tips from Your Healthiest You can be found here.
Image from the photo stream of Kowarski, here.
I do this thing. When I’m feeling unsatisfied, or insecure, I start collecting. I Pin beautiful images, and try to figure out how to make my life mirror them. I read memoirs and try to imagine my life as theirs. I look outside of myself for the missing piece. As if there is some room I can sit in that will make it all clear, or a tiny slice of wisdom outside of myself that is going to make the difference.
I know that’s not true. And still, I collect. I used to beat myself up about this but recently I took a look at one of my collections – a list of inspiring women – and I learned something.
What all these women seem to have in common is that they aren’t copying someone else. They’ve forged their own paths, ones that might look very different from what they thought – or what anyone else thought for that matter.
This is awesome and frustrating. Because there is part of me that is still looking for an instruction book on life: “The 5 Steps to Being Happy,” “Here’s How to Be Radiantly Yourself.” But the longer I go at this, the more I realize, there isn’t a model to follow. I can look at these women and be inspired by their stories, but in the end, they are not my stories. I can’t do what they did. I have to come up with this life on my own.
That said, here are some women I admire for their vision, commitment and pluck, honesty, and individuality
Erin Loechner of Design For Mankind
Andrea Scher of Superhero Life
Katie O’Connell of Dragon Fly Yoga Barn (Not a website, a real-life place)
Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl
I am ready to restore.
I’m heading up to New Hampshire, where I hear it’s really and truly autumn, to Dragonfly Yoga Barn. I haven’t been there before but I have to tell you, this place looks amazing. It’s a Yoga Barn, you guys. Yoga. Barn.
Twice a year I assist my teacher in a program called Refilling Your Well. It’s a nurturing retreat that helps teach the science of stress and stress-reduction. Learning what truly nurtures them, students are encouraged to ‘put the oxygen mask’ on themselves first, so that they are healthy and strong when they take care of others.
It’s wisdom I know in my head, and more and more, feel in my body. Which is why I’m so excited to assist yet another restorative retreat coming up this weekend. I’m helping out a long-time friend of mine from back in the Kripalu days as she leads a Gentle Yoga and Yoga Nidra program. I know there will be lots of setup (bolsters, blankets, backjacks) but I also think there will be time for hot tubs, and hikes, and being still. Remember being still? Ever? I barely do. And I’m so looking forward to it.
When I tried goat’s milk yogurt for the first time, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe something tangy or earthy. Something that smelled farm-like. But, for those of you who haven’t tried it, it tastes like yogurt. For real. It’s been a pretty seamless transition.
I love me some yogurt. Greek, regular, never fruit on the bottom. Just plain love. I’m pretty sure I lived on yogurt and granola alone for a year. But, recently I started working with a rock star nutritionist to help me navigate the sometimes-intense waters of whole health, ayurveda and nutrition – and to address some specific imbalances I’ve been having. It is all one big experiment. An experiment that includes: goat’s milk stuff.
For a while I eliminated dairy all together. But with some additional changes to my diet, it all started to feel just too restrictive and I missed my yogurt-y treat. So goat’s milk yogurt it is. Today I topped mine with a handful of almonds, half a chopped apple, and some hemp seed, and I’m a happy camper.
This is the kind my health food store carries. They name all their goats, so that’s cute.
Image from Sharon Montrose