Monday, November 30, 2009


Is there such a thing? After 100 days of yoga, it's definitely becoming a habit, and something I think about throughout the day.

Alcoholics drink to feel better, smokers smoke... do yogaholics hit the mat?

I got upset tonight, and all I could think of was yoga. I stopped what I was doing, and went to practice. I practiced till I felt calm, then I meditated for a few minutes to try and cement that feeling a little bit into place. Maybe cement isn't the right word, because what I really want is a little flexibility, but with a string attached that pulls me right back into place. A saying about a tree comes to mind, about bending in the wind but not breaking, and staying rooted in the earth.

That is what yoga is for me, and I want that to grow even stronger. I want to bend to the needs of the day, but not snap, and I want to always keep my center strongly grounded.

And if craving that feeling every day makes me a yogaholic, then so be it! :)


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Good Day, Another Good Practice

Today was a good day. Tonight I had a good practice. I was sweating buckets, and enjoying the physical activity. But I really don't have much to say about anything today. It's been mellow in my house - perfect for yoga. But not much else going on, and nothing too thought provoking. Maybe tomorrow my brain will be more active!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Good Day

Today was another good day, and another good practice. It was shorter than I expected though. I settled in for over an hour of power yoga, but found I couldn't complete it. What I did do, I did well. I focused, I breathed, I fine tuned. But when I found I couldn't do that anymore, I recognized that, and I stopped.

Maybe it was because I ate so much yesterday.

Either way, my practice felt invigorating, and I wanted to keep it that way, instead of pushing through and feeling drained.

I hope tomorrow I can complete my practice, but if not, that's ok. Thirty minutes of good, hard yoga is good enough for me.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I had a quiet, meditative practice, to focus on the things I'm grateful for. I send out intentions almost every time I practice, but to acknowledge the holiday, I put even more focus on what I'm thankful for, and who and what I dedicated my practice to.

I'm so lucky to have a strong body that enables me to practice Yoga, to have a place to practice in, to live on such a beautiful island that always inspired me, to have a wonderful husband who encourages me, and to have a loving family that supports me.

I wish that everyone could have the same abundance of good fortune, if not more.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Surf Yoga

Today, I went up to the North Shore and watched the big wave riders. Their confidence, their respect for the power of the ocean, and their unbelievable skils are all awe inspiring. I saw a sign at a local cafe for surf yoga, and surf massage. Providers tweak yoga and massage to make it work for surfers - building balance, core strength, and taking care of the muscles of the upper back that are so important to paddling.

I've always wanted to learn how to surf. Having alwasy been a lack luster swimmer, I never had the guts. I promised myself that I would try it while I lived here, and today, I'm wondering if I have an advantage by already practicing yoga. Will my balance poses help me get up and stay up on a board? Maybe, maybe not.

But I'm willing to try and find out!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


After my blissful day yesterday, today was full of frustrations, most of which I could have handled better. So I took it to the mat, and spent over an hour sweating buckets in power yoga. And if felt gooooood. With so much focus on form and endurance and not slipping in my own sweat, I totally forgot about the things that were bothering me. And now my arms and legs feel like Jello! :) But I'm happy about it. Really happy.


Yesterday's Practice - Day 100

Yesterday, I treated myself to a spa day. It is a glorious place, and my skin really needed some help. So for my 100th day of yoga, I indulged!

I lucked out and had the Eucalyptus infused steam room all to myself, so I decided to try out my own little private version of 'hot yoga'. I did really, really slow, like turtle slow, stretches, and seated meditation.

It was wonderful, and though it was short because of the intensity of the steam, I'd say it was one of the most beneficial practices I've had yet!


Monday, November 23, 2009

99 Yoga Poses on the Wall...

99 Yoga Poses... You take down, master it around, 98 poses of yoga...

Ok, I'm feeling silly. This is my 99th day of yoga, and when I noticed that, the old song popped in my head. At first I didn't think anything of it, but then I thought of my friend Claire, who has a gorgeous yoga room in her house, with posters of the poses on the wall. I think I'd like to get a poster, and use it as a 'to do' list. A reminder if you will, to learn each and every pose in detail, not just the ones that seems so enticingly challenging. I've got some Amazon shopping to do, so I think I'll add that to the list.

I aspire to have a place carved out just for yoga and mediation some day too. Right now, I rotate through the house. When I'm using a DVD, I'm in the living room. When I'm using an old VHS tape or CD, I'm in the bedroom, where I keep a little TV/VCR combo in the closet. And when I'm practicing in silence, or with a podcase, I'm in the office. And every once in a while, if I'm feeling the need for more space, like for shoulderstand practice, I'm in the kitchen! It's nice to rotate around, but I'd like to be able to have a designated spot. A place that stays clean, and where I could leave my mat out because it's out of the way of traffic. It's not going to happen in this house, that's for sure. But maybe someday...


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Mat is Calling

Today has been productive. A few things happened that upset me, but I was busy all day, and didn't think about them. When I finally settled into my big comfy chair to relax, my mind immediately went to the things that had bothered me earlier, and I knew no good would come of it. And then I heard my yoga mat, like it was calling my name.

I had a little resistance at first. I wanted to relax in my chair, and watch tv. But I couldn't quiet my mind, and somewhere in me, something was telling me to go do yoga. I've been reading about resistance in Mediations, so I asked myself why I was feeling it right then. Answer: laziness. I wanted to be lazy. But lazy wasn't going to help me. So I tossed the resistance aside, and hit the mat.

I practiced super slow, focusing on each little muscle group as much as I could, and on breathing. I threw myself completely into my practice. I couldn't let my irritable feelings go sitting in my chair, but I knew I would be able to on my mat - especially if I really focused on the poses to keep my mind from wandering. I think that's what people mean when they say 'moving meditation'.

Rocking from seated forward bend all the way back to plow over and over again, I imagined that I was pushing the tension out of my back, down my legs, and right out of my body. And in tree, I imagined myself to be as centered as a tall oak tree, rooted to the earth but always growing upwards. Of course I did other poses, but these poses were where I really hit my groove, and felt a huge benefit.

It's amazing how something that's irritating can turn into something positive with the right frame of mind and a little bit of action!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Letting Go

Today, I read words in Meditations that seemed like they were written just for me. Gates said, "In the end, it is not about control, but about letting go." He talked about how this is an attitude that is cultivated on the mat during your asanas, but that you must also take into your daily life. He talks about choosing to react in the ways of your old bad habits, or choosing to react in ways that help you be the person you want to be. Whether it's a situation you can't control in a store, with your job, or in some other arena, you have to realize that you are only in control of how you react, and the best way to do so is to let it go.

My Mom hasn't written a book, but she's said it to me a million times. "Just let it go Kris." And I resist to that so much.

In yoga, it's natural for me to let go. I can't always do it, but it happens often enough that when I can't, it's very noticeable to me. But in my daily life, this is definitely a struggle for me.

I've brought breath work off the mat and into the rest of my day. Now I need to bring this ability to let go off the mat as well.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Sun Salutations and Breathing

I wonder if it's a normal progression for yoga students to first feel the connection of the flow of breathing with the flow of movement in sun salutations. That has definitely been my experience. Tonight, as I flowed through a series of sun salutations I realized that I no longer have to try so hard to inhale with certain movements and exhale with others. The movement and the breathing are becoming intrinsically linked. It feels natural, as if there is no other way, but I know from my years of sporadic practice that it certainly hasn't always been this way.

I hope this connection keeps growing within my practice. I look forward to having such a natural feeling through the more difficult sequences.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Day, Good Practice

Today was a really good day. Traffic was exceptionally light, and my commute was cut in half. I had time to walk to the gas station to buy some pickled mango, and had a wonderful conversation, in true aloha spirit, with the clerk. It's not often that you can say a gas station clerk brightened your day! She was a sweetheart.

The weather was gorgeous, so I enjoyed the walk to and from the station, and then later on, I got outside with the dog I'm caring for, and we enjoyed the weather too.

Today was an early day for me, so when I left, I rolled the windows down, turned up the music, and got some errands done while I enjoyed the sun and the breeze. I went to a class, and then to a meeting, and then headed for home, still with plenty of energy for yoga.

I did a lot of standing balance poses, meditated in tree pose, really stretched out my forward bend, and then was joined by one of the pups for Shivasana.

And now I'm beat, ready for bed, and looking forward to tomorrow! :)


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tight muscles

I'm not sure what's going on today, but my muscles are tight. Much tighter than usual. I spent some extra time in forward bend, trying to allow my hamstrings to give in to the stretch. They were feeling very stubborn.

Maybe it's because I did new sequences a couple of nights in a row, and then fell asleep last night during my 'easy' practice. Maybe my muscles enjoyed the new workouts, but needed more of a stretch last night.

Either way, it felt good to limber up a little tonight. My balance is off and my muscles are tight, but it still felt good and my spirits are high!


Yesterday's Practice

Yesterday, I was out all day, and so tired when I got home. I wanted to relax and restore, so I chose a meditative practice. But guess what... I fell asleep during it! Oops! So here's the blog post for it, since I obviously can't blog in my sleep!

I guess when you're that tired, the body takes over!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Another evening of engaging practice

Tonight, I practiced very late again - it's been a full, busy weekend.
I chose an arm strengthening sequence, since I did legs yesterday. I started with chest openers, and then switched podcasts to the arm strength practice. I didn't finish it, because I could feel my heart rate rise, and my arms start to get wobbly. I didn't want to push it to far, so I decided to stretch and relax and quiet my mind after. In seated forward bend, I felt like I could have melted into the earth. I felt like there was no room for me to stretch farther, and I was fluid. No strain, no where else to go, just time and space to relax and let tension fall away. And now, with tired arms, I'm ready for bed, and a fresh start to a new week.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Still feeling inspired!

The glow from my wonderful day yesterday has carried through to today!
I slept in a little bit because last night was such a late night, and then made a pot of coffee.
When I went out with the dogs, it was shaping up to be a rainy day, and I was excited about it.
I went to a craft show and picked up some local, handmade gifts for Christmas and caught up with friends.
Then, I headed out to the beach. I figured it was cool, overcast, and rainy... so it would probably be empty. But if there's one thing you learn in Hawaii - the beach is never empty!!! I walked and enjoyed the 'winter' weather, and had a yummy sandwich.
Driving home, I caught my first Koolau Waterfalls - the kind that only spring up on a rainy day. Driving in the Jeep, playing Jack Johnson on the radio... I felt totally at peace.

I tell you all this because two wonderful days in a row inspired me in my practice. I chose a vigorous sequence of standing poses, and in each one, I could feel my torso rising up. It was as if my light mood was helping me lift out of the pose in a way I'd never been able to do before.

Afterwards, in shivasana, I focused on the mental images of beauty I captured today - the beach, the waves, the waterfalls. Wonderful. And I mean that by it's true definition - full of wonder. That's how I feel.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 90 - And what a wonderful day it was!

So, 90 days of yoga! Today was a wonderful day. I went to a concert at the Hawaii Theater that made me appreciate my life, my history, my opportunities, and of course the music.

First there was a screening of a concert DVD that showed many European locations - many of which I've been too. I was reminded how lucky I've been to travel the world. Memories came flooding back of experiences, friends, and feelings that have made me who I am today. It's easy to become disconnected from things that seem so long ago, and when you reconnect to them, you feel so much more alive.

Then there was the concert - Jack Johnson, live, in Hawaii. There were collaborations with Hawaiian artists, and a general spirit of aloha that you just don't get anywhere else. And that made me think of how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be here, living in Hawaii, and to have the means to go to such a concert!

And last but not least, the music. GOOD music. Music that warms your heart and makes you love your life just a little bit more. Lyrics that remind you of why you fell in love, and even better, why you're still in love.

What a great night. I came home, took the pups for a walk, and then settled in for an 'evening cool down' workout from Yoga Journal's podcasts. While I relaxed into it, I thought about all these positive influences I have in my life. I know I already said it, but I just feel so lucky, even honored maybe, to be living this life. It just keeps getting better!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

What a View!

Today, I practiced during the morning, while I was dog sitting in a Penthouse apartment downtown. The apartment had floor to ceiling windows, which has a positive and a negative. Obviously, the view is a positive aspect. But I have a fear of edges, and standing by those windows feels very much like an edge! So that was scary.

I thought it was a perfect opportunity to practice. I used yoga to work through the worry that builds up irrationally while looking over the edge of the floor, and used the view as motivation.

I only had my camera phone with me so the picture does not do the view justice. Seriously, it is FAR from the reality of the beauty of this view.

Lucky I live Hawaii!



I'm at a point in Meditations from the Mat that is over my head. I read the quotes, read the passages, and nothing eloquent flows through my mind. It's really just a resounding 'huh?'

Gates is talking about self-study, giving up hope and just being present in the now, and giving up self-image.

I can't wrap my head around these two concepts. If I give up hope of something better, I can live in the now - a now filled with decadent food, shopping trips, alcohol... I could even start smoking again. I could be very entertained in the now if I gave up hope for the future.

And previously in the teachings about the niyamas, there was a lot of talk about self-image. Being neat and clean, taking good care of one's outer appearance and your surroundings was considered important. But now it's says to give up self image, because it is an attachment, and with attachments, we can't live fully in the present.

I'm confused.

But I'm going to keep reading, and keep practicing, and hope (see, not giving that up yet!) that it all comes together and makes sense to me in the future.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sun Salutations

I love the rhythm and simplicity of sun salutations. I like that after all these days of continuous practice, and years of sporadic practice before that, I can flow through sun salutations without having to focus on which pose comes next. It's relaxing and invigorating all at the same time.

I've been learning lunar salutations too, but I think I lean towards sun salutations because I'm more familiar with them.

Tonight, even though it's a little rainy outside, I practiced sun salutations. It felt great, especially the warmth that they create juxtaposed with the damp, chilled air.

A winter storm is supposed to be headed our way, and I look forward to the chance to practice to the sound of pounding rain. I think if I get that opportunity, I'll switch to lunar salutations and relish in the coolness they entice.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breathing Exercise Bliss

Tonight, I did a wonderful series of breathing exercises aimed at relaxing the whole body. As always, my favorite part was when the breathing was combined with spinal twists. I wonder what that says about my body? I've been told by massage therapists that I hold my stress in my upper back, between the shoulder blades. Is that why I feel so much benefit from supine twists?

I keep saying I need a massage, and I keep saying I'm going to get one. But it just hasn't happened yet. Tonight though, during my practice, I felt like I really needed it, to loosen those tense muscles in my back and neck that are so hard to relax.

One more thought before I close. When I was finished tonight, I didn't want to move. I didn't want to get up and do the things I had to do before turning in for the night. And I mean REALLY didn't. I was so comfortable, so relaxed, and so content to just lay there enjoying the good feelings that my practice had brought. So that makes me wonder too - what does everyone else feel? What do yoga masters feel? Sometimes I'm energized to really live my daily life. But sometimes, like tonight, I just want to cover up with a blanket and be still. Is that a good thing?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slow Motion Study

Last night, after I finished my practice, I watched more of a Rodney Yee DVD in both slow motion, and double time speed. Slow motion allowed me to see small tweaks he was making to the poses that are hard to notice in regular motion, and even harder when you are in the pose yourself, only partially watching the screen. And double time speed allowed me to see more of a flow to the sequences and breath together, and have a better bigger picture of how an entire sequence should work together.

So today, I paid attention to those things I noticed while practicing, and I think it really helped. I was able to draw my leg up from downward dog into lunge with less struggle, I felt more muscles being stretched in forward bend, and I could really feel the difference in my abs during standing back bend.

And all that was just from reviewing a DVD I've done many times, but in a different way. A little change in perspective can make a world of difference!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Climbing back...

After a lot of off days, a lot of slow days, today I felt the need to climb back up on my yoga wagon. I felt relaxed and strong, and ready to go. But it turns out, more slow days than challenging days have weakened me more than I thought. So as I settled in for an hour of Power Yoga, I found myself petering out much before the end.

But that's ok, right? My climb is going to take a little longer than I thought.

In Meditations from the Mat, Gates says we have to practice without attachment to results. And that is so hard for me, and probably for most Americans. If I'm not attached to my results, it's hard to stay attached to the practice. It's hard for me to stay honest in my endeavors if I don't think I need to be attached to the outcome. I think that grey area has helped me end up where I am today, realizing that I've slacked too much, and made too many excuses. If it's always ok to not push yourself too much, it's easy to not push at all.

No guilt though. Just understanding. So I need to work a little harder, just to keep myself honest.

Another interesting thought from Meditations this week was this: The questions will be followed by the answers, the answers by action, and the action by growth.

To be able to follow this, I have to be able to trust that I am always honest with myself, or else my answers may be fraudulent, and lead me off the best path.


Slow night

Tonight is a slow night. I really have trouble with yoga when my sinuses are acting up. It's hard to bend over, hard to breath through my nose, and hard to focus.

I only practice for a few minutes - spinal twists, a few leg stretches, a supported neck stretch, and a few shoulder openers. I ended in reclined cobbler, instead of shivasana, because it just felt better.

Sometimes, when I'm not feeling well, I start to feel better once I start practicing. Tonight was one of those nights.

I think it's time to resurrect the neti pot. Maybe if I can get my head cleared up, I can get back to a more challenging practice. I feel bored without it!


Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. First, that I might try transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, which sparks a whole lists of questions for my own belief system. And second, that I think I'm too much of a consumer.

Today, I bought new clothes. Lots of them. And when I came home, my closet had collapsed. Is the universe trying to tell me something?

What does this have to do with yoga? Well, the more I practice, and the more I study the ways of yoga, I'm starting to feel like I need to try harder to be a better person, to do less harm to the world, and to try to do more good. Watching videos about the torture male calves go through at the hands of our milk industry is making me feel awful about buying milk, even though I only buy organic. And the amount of money I spend on clothes and shoes, even though I don't buy leather or wool, could be going to such better pursuits, like education or charities.

So when I practiced tonight, I practiced in the dark, and tried not to let all my 'things' cloud my vision. And I really felt out my feelings, if that makes any sense.

Veganism in today's society, especially married to a meat eater, is a huge transition. I won't do it overnight the way I did vegetarianism. And buying less will be a transition too. Right now though, for me in my life, on my path, I think that yoga is helping me to make the choices that will inevitably make me feel more content with my life.

Oh, and today, forward bend felt amazing... not downward dog. So I did it over and over again, and really enjoyed it!


How can Downward Dog Feel so Good?

I do downward dog just about every day now, usually several times a day, for several breaths at a time. So how can it feel so normal, and then all of a sudden feel so good?

I don't know what I did throughout the day that would have caused this, but I'm thinking I did something. Maybe my posture was more slouched than usual. Maybe my breathing was more shallow, and my chest more tight.

Whatever it was, downward dog was the fix. Getting into it, I could feel my side ribs really open, and my lungs expand. My upper arms felt tight, but they must like downward dog, because the stretch felt amazing.

Sometimes things strike me so unexpectedly. Earlier this week, I was resting in downward dog, and my mind went back to the first time I learned that the pose could be use for rest, many years ago. I was full of disbelief then, but there I was, using it to take a break from a strenuous practice and return to my breath. It wasn't a shocking realization, but more of a acknowledgement of how far I've come in yoga. And then just a few days later, here I am, caught off guard by how amazing a pose can feel.

Every day my body is changing, with yoga and outside of it. I never know what to expect, but I do know that whatever happens will be good!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 80!

Today is day 80, and I took it easy. It was a quiet day, raining on and off with a nice breeze. I took a nap earlier just because I wanted to fall asleep to the sound of the rain. It was blissfully peaceful. And once the house was quiet tonight - husband and dogs all sound asleep - I did some gentle yoga in front of open windows, inhaling the scent of the rain. It has been a very happy day. :)


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Tonight, I had a great practice. I put in a Shiva Rhea CD - not a practice CD, just music. I let the music guide me, and I truly enjoyed myself. I worked on shoulder stand again with the help of my husband, and made a teensy bit of progress. I worked on it until my arms felt worn out, which wasn't as long as you might think!

Outside of practice though, I've been thinking about the ups and downs of this journey, the good days and the not so good. Tonight, when I opened up Meditations from the Mat, I received some perfectly timed guidance.

Gates says, "We will have good days and bad days, days when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and days when the opposite is the case. Years of consistent practice are not built on rigid self-discipline; they are built on the desire to know more." Instantly, I felt better. Because I definitely have days when my muscles feel strong, but I'm just not in the mood, and days when I'm inspired, but my body doesn't cooperate. Like a good teacher guiding me along, Gates and Meditations from the Mat are coaching me to keep going, to know my ups and down are normal, and to help me grow within my own practice.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Lunar Flow Inspiration

Today, I went to the Ko'olina Lagoons. I walked the path around the lagoons, had an ocean front lunch, snorkeled along the rock walls, and then laid on the grass, soaking up the sun. While I laid there, I thought of Lunar Flow, and how you are supposed to imagine standing in front of the sea with a full moon shining down, and that this was the perfect inspiration for that meditation.

So tonight, I practiced with my Lunar Flow CD, and used the beautiful seascapes from today as my mental images.

I always have trouble with one aspect of this meditation, and that's centering my image in my imagination. For some reason, I struggle with lining everything up - my imaginary self, the coastline in front of me, the waves breaking, and the moon shining down. My mind wants to set everything from an angle, as if my dominant eye is even more dominant when my eyes are closed and they aren't actually seeing anything.

Having a real image helped with this a little bit, but didn't eradicate the problem. For me, having things lined up is key to relaxation. But which is more important - to be able to line everything up by flexing my mental muscles, or to be able to let the need for the line up go, and relax even with my meditation offset at an angle? I'm really not sure. I'm guessing though that both are worthwhile pursuits when meditating.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shoulder Openers

I could really feel my efforts from last night's practice today. Between that, and my mini mental meltdown over dog hair, I was in the need for some relaxation and re-centering.

Tonight was the kind of night where every moment was a struggle to keep my mind from racing, to keep from jumping mentally from one frustration to another.

To combat the tightness from yesterday's practice, and the tightness from my self-created stress, I chose a shoulder and neck opening practice.

When it was over, I definitely felt better. I can't say I was completely right again, but I was able to attack the couch with the vacuum instead of just chucking it to the curb! So tonight, yoga helped me my stress, my muscle tension, my sanity, and my wallet! ;)