Favorite Posts of 2013…

year in review

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.

bed yoga

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.

Harvest-Moon

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.

Nurturing

snowy day

What nurtures you?

At the Refilling Your Well retreat I assist, this is a question we ask every time. We go through a visualization meditation and exercise of writing down the things that nurture us – whether it’s a hot cup of tea, a day at the beach, a massage, a hug – and then examine why we don’t do those things more often.

Often we blame time, or money, but there’s almost always a deeper truth there. We, a lot of us, don’t know how to take care of ourselves. Or really understand the importance of it.

This year, I’m not making “resolutions” per se. But I am looking at what nurtures me. What makes me feel good, whole, happy. If you know me at all, you might already know a couple of things on that list: a hot cup of tea. A good story. A dog cuddle. But there are other things too, that I often forget about: A great workout that leaves me breathless and sore the next day, creative collaboration, a project with results I can hold in my hands, a laugh so hard it makes me cry, friendship.

I feel like if I can weave these things into my life – or even better – weave my life around these activities, I will be well on my way to a happy new year.

It’s a good question to ask, and the answers might change every so often. What nurtures you?

Refilling Your Well, Holiday Edition

Kripalu is a heart home for me. I can’t pinpoint what it is, exactly, since the place is always changing. But it’s like the summer camp where I had my first kiss, except it’s a yoga retreat and I never kissed anyone there. I don’t know. Whether I’m able to articulate it or not, I love the place.

I first volunteered there over a decade ago, and lately I’ve been attending programs as an assistant with my teacher and friend. I’m incredibly excited to go this December. In the last ten years, I’ve somehow managed to miss winter there. I can only hope for snow.

And, you guys, it’s one of my favorite programs: Refilling Your Well. You can read more about the details of the program at the Kripalu site, but I can tell you it is an immersive nurturing experience with a mix of science and self-indulgence. Sounds good, right?

I really encourage people to do something like this at least once in their lives: a weekend dedicated to you and your personal health that is more than just pampering. It’s a learning opportunity with lasting lessons for self-care.

Are you interested? Because you’re invited.

Image from The Dual Life.

Do you wanna go out?

So much of my life is routine, even my practice. And I tend to be a homebody, which sometimes means spending a LOT of time in my studio apartment. One of the things I love about practicing outdoors is simply the shake up of it. It’s like crossing my feet in the non-habitual way. It just FEELS different.

I can’t help but connect with the air around me and the ground under my feet and get out of my own head. There’s just something about a real live breeze and the actual sunshine – GAH! – I just adore it. (Daily Downward Dog agrees.)

You can bring your mat outside anytime. If you’re like me, and appreciate a little structure to keep you going, here are some FREE outdoor classes in and around New York City.

These three are on my list.

Bryant Park
Classes are on the Upper Terrace on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and on the lawn on Thursdays at 6 p.m. May-September

Gantry Plaza State Park
On Pier 1 August 12 at 10 a.m., September 9 at 5 p.m.

Socrates Sculpture Park
Kripalu yoga on Saturdays at 9:30 and 11 a.m. May
12–September 30

I haven’t tried these yet. Have you?

Chelsea 14th Street Park
Laughing Lotus yoga classes on Saturdays
at 9 a.m. June–August

Target East Harlem Community Garden
Saturdays at 11 a.m. May–September

Prospect Park
Thursday nights at 7 p.m. (near the
Grand Army Plaza entrance). May
24–September 6

Nurturing

One of the things we talked about at the retreat was prioritizing self-care. Putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, so to speak. It’s so easy to skip this step. Or to do things to wind down that don’t really nurture us. Uhm, Pinterest anyone?

This is how I do this – and it’s not always well. But I made a commitment to myself to start my day by moving. It can be yoga or hula hooping, running around with the dog or dancing – it doesn’t matter. Do I skip some mornings? Yep. And it only serves to remind me that if I start my day by choosing to move around – not just shuffle to the shower, shuffle to the closet, shuffle to work – I’m more likely to KEEP moving, and have a better day.

Here are some easy, FREE ways to keep moving:

Take a Break: Download a quick 5 minute led practice.Kripalu Yoga Break offers postures, breath work and guided meditation in short bursts for when you need a little break, but don’t have the time or inclination for something hefty.

Walk it Off: Seriously. There’s no link here. It just means go for a walk. That’s it. Get up. Walk around. Outside is better than inside. Sometimes I even take my shoes off. Shhh. Don’t tell.

Download: I’ve plugged these guys before, but Yogadownload offers such an amazing service, I have to mention them again. Download a free 20 minute podcast every week, or pay for longer classes. They have audio, and video too if you like to watch your teachers.

Dance Party: A song is usually less than five minutes long. I bet you have five minutes to shake your groove thing.

We Have the Technology: I’m usually on my phone and computer ALL day long. Are you? Use it to your advantage. Change your email password to one of the yamas and niyamas. Change your phone ring to say “Breathe.” Block off a 15 minute meeting every afternoon to get up from your desk and go outside. I don’t always do this either, but I’m glad when I do.

Meeting Maker: This applies to EVERYTHING listed above, or whatever other nurturing activities you come up with: schedule it. There are some days when if it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening. This is the exact same point I made above – it’s about priorities. It’s about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, before you can help others. Refilling the well, as we say.

How do you fill the well?

Yoga is…

[at Kripalu]

Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself. – Bhagavad Gida

Hustling up and down the stairs at least four times a day this long weekend, and damned if this one didn’t smack me between the eyes every time. That is some serious business right there, and for me, there’s no running away from it. It grinds me down, but I like it.