Two Yoginis

A journey of yoga, friendship, and transformation


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Know When To Fold ‘Em

Since graduating from our 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training a little over three weeks ago, several people have asked me:

So, are you going to start teaching now? What is your plan?

Teacher Training asked me to go outside my comfort zone in a multitude of ways, not least of which was giving up more or less all of my personal time. When it was over, I felt excited and proud, but also drained, and in need of a serious break.

One of the secrets to thriving in New York City is knowing when to fold ‘em – that is, to lock the door, draw the shades, order Seamless, and indulge in a DVR marathon with the iPhone set to “do not disturb.” In a city where survival demands a great deal of your energy, it is crucial to have ample down time to recharge your batteries. This was simply not available (enough) during the course of this experience.

To introduce our final project, (my partners) Bella, Mat, and I had our classmates set up in a zodiac formation, symbolizing that for everything there is a time and a season. For me, the last six months were about Teacher Training – a serious, all-consuming, academic, physical, and spiritual pursuit. The next six months, well, remain to be seen.

In the meantime, I am thrilled to be back out and about, catching up with friends, making the rounds to June birthday parties, weddings, showers, and weekend getaways. And, as I turn the corner on my birthday, next week, I am also getting ready to start a new year of life, taking time alone to reboot, and prepare myself for a fresh, unwritten chapter. My current plan is to drop the seriousness and just have fun (and it feels fantastic).

In our culture, we place a bit too much emphasis on doing and perhaps not enough emphasis on being. As I unfurl from this experience, I’m less concerned about what’s next, as I am about what’s now. And what’s now, you ask?

Now is summer Fridays, Jersey beaches, Yankee games, barbecues, live music, warm nights, cold beers, and (ample) time to relax and spend time with the people I love.

I think most yogi(ni)s would agree: sometimes the best plan is not having one.

To the nearest beach, please. Photo by Ali.

To the nearest beach, please. Photo by Ali.


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The Yoga of Happiness

On Saturday, Ali and I were buzzing as we walked arm-in-arm down 7th Avenue. We were reflecting on the last three hours of teacher training with our guest lecturer, Harshada, on meditation and the yoga of happiness. His energy was peaceful with a mixture of vigor and humor. He laughed at himself and helped us laugh at ourselves as we probed the topic and explored our inner bodies and emotions.

We began class by answering the question as to what brought us to yoga. My answer was simple. I found the yoga mat during a dark period of my life, when I was searching to feel better. I recognized that regular practice created a positive feeling and, therefore, I returned regularly. My classmates also shared their reasons, and, as our attention returned to our teacher, he recapped what everyone was pointing at. What was it that everyone was searching for? We all described this idea differently, but inherent to each answer was a very simple point: we were all searching for a greater sense of happiness and well-being.

We were searching for ways to be deeply happy and the day would be dedicated to giving each of us the tools to manifest this happiness.

As I mentioned in my last post, our society focuses so much on a need to be busy. Beyond the constant need to remain busy, we put ourselves down regularly as to what we should do, didn’t do, or should not have done . Whether expressed verbally or as part of our internal dialogue, we look at ourselves critically every day. “I don’t make enough time to workout,” “I always lose focus,” “I eat too much.”

Where is the wiggle room in such absolute statements? Our teacher suggested that, instead of phrasing our critical thoughts in this way, we should preface each statement with the words “up until now.” These simple words create the wiggle room to allow the self to define itself how it truly wants. We stop identifying with the harsher, more critical self and, instead, leave some room to change.

The day continued with guided meditation sessions that led me on a path I never imagined. I felt as though I tapped into something deeper than ever before. I was watching my breath with my eyes closed and actually feeling emotion that was stuck inside my heart. I was starting to become ultra sensitive to what was blocking me from feeling truly happy. I was searching for my true north, a step toward finding deep, lasting happiness.

What Ali and I were ultimately buzzing about, as we walked outside (besides the fact we were both totally engaged with the lecture) was that this teacher training was affecting us on a much deeper level than just providing us with tools to teach yoga. This training was shifting and changing the way we see the world and ourselves. When we shift internally, we can start to see things show up differently around us.

Up until now, I did not know what my true north was. However, just showing up and doing the work is bringing me one step closer to knowing and refining my inner compass. My true north will likely change many times, but even going in the wrong direction is a clue to finding the right one.

Look out for happy road.

happy road


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Red Rock Restorative

With our hiking boots, yoga teacher training books and an intention to relax, Ali and I made a plan to escape the busy city and return to the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, a place that holds a very special place in our hearts. Sedona is known as a highly energetic location due to natural rock formations called vortexes. The vortexes have concentrated energy and are known for their healing qualities.

As we drove into Boynton Canyon, I felt my shoulders move further away from my ears. I was excited to re-visit some of the vortexes that brought an immense amount of healing energy to me just one year prior. So much had changed for both of us since our last visit to the red rocks. Most notably, the fact we were now deeply immersed in yoga teacher training.

Yoga at The Bell Rock Vortex

Yoga at The Bell Rock Vortex

During our three days in Sedona, we soaked in the vortex energy, sunshine and vitamin D, rested our bodies and allowed ourselves to enter a state of true relaxation. To me, it felt almost foreign at first, not to be planning and allocating every minute of my time to specific activities each day. However, these moments of solace and rejuvenation became the vehicle for me to realize the necessity of relaxing and taking breaks.

We have become programmed to think we always need to be “on” or busy. I know from experience that being busy can even become a way to mask what else is really going on. However, it was in the relaxed, stress-free moments that my mind became truly clear.

busy

Right before we left for Sedona, we had a teacher training session that was focused on restorative yoga. This day was one of the most meaningful days of teacher training for me. It illuminated to me that practicing restorative yoga and meditation is vital to survival and happiness. Tuning into the body, mind, and breath, and allowing the body to truly rest, creates space to succeed.

While in Sedona, Ali and I meditated on the vortex and tossed some local rocks in a fountain as a ritual to leave behind some intentions. While I will keep a few of my intentions for the secrecy of the vortex, I will share one:

I will allow myself to slow down and truly shut off when I feel myself hitting my edge.
I will be patient and courageous as necessary to rest, restore, and heal.

“Nobody has the TIME to take the slow route of healing or the patience (and sometimes courage) to rest and restore the body and mind after obtaining some sort of injury of the physical or emotion kind. We treat our bodies as if we are built like trucks, expecting them to work for endless stretches of time without needing to be refreshes, restored or rejuvenated.” – Yogamaya Teacher Training

If you are feeling the need to slow down and restore, check out the next restorative workshop at YOGAMAYA this coming friday with the amazing Keely!


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Every Day is a Winding Road

I love a good road trip. There’s something about driving for a few hours that puts me in a creative and happy-go-lucky mood. Maybe it’s the air flowing through open windows, or the unpredictability of what song might play next on the radio (Beth and I enjoy a good sing-along), or the exploration of unfamiliar territories, but the energy just feels fresh.

Calendar Doodle

Calendar Doodle

While driving the hundred or so miles between Phoenix and Sedona, I started rattling off some astrological babble to Beth, who declared she really didn’t get what I was talking about. Astrology has its own language, one that I am just beginning to decode. So, as we made our way to the red rocks, I gave my co-pilot some basic lessons about Astrology, refreshing my own understanding in the process. As we continued along the wildflower and cactus-lined highway, we brainstormed and chatted and and daydreamed about what we wanted to create in our lives, in the context of the energies at hand.

With regard to any elaborate philosophy or science, a high-level understanding of the basics can be just enough to get started. Patanjali’s The Yoga Sutras is considered the most prominent text in western culture for learning yogic philosophy. The Sutras are composed of 196 statements that are each deceivingly simple, yet infinitely complex. It is said that each Sutra, or connective thread, must be “unpacked” to understand the deep, esoteric knowledge contained within it.

During teacher training last weekend, we spent twelve hours filling up on knowledge from a Swami to understand the basics of The Yoga Sutras. While two days of sitting on the (hardwood) floor, giving one’s undivided attention to the teachings of an ancient, philosophical text might seem grueling, it perhaps held the most profound opportunity for expansion of the entire teacher training experience. Contained within the Sutras are universal truths about the human experience. Once we begin to understand these fundamental truths, we can look at our experience and ourselves from a completely fresh perspective.

Swami Sunday - Image Credit: the fabulous Lisa Bermudez

Kirtan with Dhanurdhara Swami – Image Credit: (the fabulous) Lisa Bermudez

Truth is transformative in the sense that, once it has been uncovered (read: it was always there to begin with), it can change everything. That is why we (sometimes) fear the truth; it often seems easier to hold onto our familiar, comfortable (or uncomfortable) circumstances than deal with the consequences associated with truth. Truth can also be deceivingly simple, yet infinitely complex in its implications.

One need not understand the basics of Astrology or the Yoga Sutras to perceive the truth that we are in the midst of a BIG shift (though they are both helpful tools to help us navigate more easily). From marriage equality to immigration reform to marijuana legalization to North Korea to Hurricane Sandy to Sandy Hook to the Pope, changes of an enormous scale are under way on our planet. With the New Moon in Aries on Wednesday, April 10th, we can begin to feel the rumblings of these changes in our individual lives.

A very basic level of understanding allows us to harness the overwhelmingly positive potential of this particular New Moon:

  • New Moons represent a powerful window of opportunity to seed a new intention
  • Intention is defined by Merriam Webster as what one intends to do or bring about
  • Aries energy is associated with my wants and needs, as an individual, often characterized by the phrase “my way or the highway

With the energy of the New Moon in Aries at hand, now is the time to identify your truth. Your truth might be about what you want to do in the world, or who you love, or expressing who you truly are. Once you know what is true for you (and you only) and, thus, determine what it is you truly want, you need only chart a course to get there. Luckily, we have a highly-accurate, built-in GPS known as Following Your Heart (an app that comes standard on this operating system and has recently undergone a series of upgrades).

To that end, start to imagine your next road trip. Where are you going? Who are you driving with? What stuff will you pack? What sights do you want to pull over and see along the way? Will you take the highway or the scenic route? What kind of snacks will you bring along? What songs are on your playlist?

With the arrival of this New Moon in Aries, we’re all getting ready for a fresh, fun road trip. So far, I know I’ll be bringing my yoga practice, my astrology, my essential oils, and some phenomenal company. As for the rest, that is still TBD (and I am OK with that).

While we’re on the dark side of the moon, it’s a good idea to fill up your tank, get your things together, and have your GPS programmed and ready to go. And buckle up, cause it’s going to be a wild ride.

Here’s a Sheryl Crow tune to get you in the mood:

Happy road tripping, yogis!


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Old Coaches Can Surely Tell

There is so much to say about the lessons I learned from my Grandpa Jim. He was a vibrant, loving grandfather, who I am grateful I had the chance to know. He was the head the Chafey family, who successfully raised seven children, and was happily married to his beloved, my Grandma Joan. My grandpa passed away last September at ninety-three; peacefully, at home, and on his own terms. Saturday morning, I woke up and immediately thought of him. I have been processing his loss and allowing myself to mourn through my practice on the yoga mat.

Hiking in San Diego remembering Grandpa

Hiking in San Diego remembering Grandpa

A few weeks ago, Ali wrote about our first session with Jonathan FitzGordan. Jonathan was introduced to the group as our anatomy teacher. After getting to know Jonathan, I would also call him a “walking” expert and a role model for teaching. Last night, at teacher training, he taught us another way to open up the body and release emotional and physical pain.

Throughout this session, Jonathan repeatedly mentioned (a tactic he encouraged us to do) the psoas major muscle and its importance to all yoga poses. As we learned in our first session, the psoas major holds trauma and stress in the body. Jonathan suggested that we could feel a great release from certain psoas-focused exercises and from proper alignment when standing and walking.

Another statement Jonathan repeated (read: teaching tactic in action) was that we did not have to believe anything he was saying. With excitement, he encouraged each of us to learn by experimenting and discerning whether an idea resonated with us. Then and only then would be able to trust him and his teachings. Each time he gave us a new piece of information or asked us to try a physical pose, I would decide if I believed what he was saying. Each time, I did feel the effect, and, therefore, trust Jonathan as an expert.

We practiced a small round of a psoas release called constructive rest position. This position is meant to allow the psoas and back body muscles release and let go. Something about this experience, brought up the memory of my Grandpa Jim, another great teacher. I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and happiness mixed together. I could feel my sorrow release, physically and emotionally.

My Grandpa taught me that there is always a solution. He could fix anything, and left me with the knowing that there is always a way. He loved to travel. He loved to observe people and places. For my college graduation, he bought me a set of luggage. I think of him every time I go to check that bag and head off on an adventure. Most of all, my Grandpa taught me that family and sharing love is most important and when there are bumps in the road and you fall down, get back up and try again. What I love about repetition is that the words become ingrained in the mind. At any moment, I can close my eyes and hear my grandfathers voice: “thank you for the love we share together.”

One of Grandpa's many hat's

One of Grandpa’s many hat’s

Coaching the Ballgame by Jim Chafey, Sr., March 2011

Just keep on swinging,
No matter your age.
Life’s joys will stay with you.
You’re at the top of the gauge.

When the fast-balls come at you,
Don’t step out of the box.
Just swing even harder,
Hit the ball right over the rocks.

Sometimes the game may be very easy,
Sometimes it may be hard, that is true,
But, just keep right on swinging,
And the win may come to you.

There is joy to be found in every game,
And each player can search for that joy.
All the coaches cannot do it for you,
Then, you self-learn that your game is quite real, not a toy.

In time, the coaching grows silent,
For your games are playing quite well,
And now there are new young games,
The formerly coached are now coaching young winners.
Old coaches can surely tell.


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Clear the Cache

There are days I feel like a Beth-bot. Like a computer program automatically set to reply all. I imagine Beth-bot like that rotisserie infomercial where you “set it and forget it.” This past week, on more than one occasion, I found myself answering people with one word answers: “yes,” “cool,” and “yeah.” I knew I had entered bot land, and needed to find a way out.

Set it and Forget it

Set it and Forget it

Without fail, Ali will cause me to LOL when she exclaims: “Is this a bot? Where is the real Beth?” I know exactly what she is referring to when she asks me this question. I can feel myself drift away into Beth-bot land as the one word answers take over. This usually happens when I am doing too many tasks at one time, and begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things on my plate. It becomes my way of partaking in the conversation without really being involved.

Tonight in yoga class, my teacher, Christina, began the class with a message to “clear the cache.” She reminded me how often we become computer-like and need to clear the cache or fully re-boot in order to function properly.

The poses quite literally twisted and cleared our bodies. With every sun salutation I could feel the cache empty. I felt as though the stress was falling away and clearing space to be present again. Each breath created a bit more space for full sentences to form. My computer screen was no long freezing with e-mails in my outbox, I hit re-boot and Beth-bot was slowly disappearing.

We all need to clear the cache, sometimes, even if it seems like a scary idea to lose all the saved history. Sometimes we become attached to the operating system we are most familiar with, even if we know it is not working optimally. I know from experience that I become attached to the “stuff” and sometimes need an extra push to actually clear it out.

However, clearing out means there is room to be present and to let go of whatever was taking up so much space in the first place. A simple child’s pose or seated meditation is a really easy way to clear the mind. We ended our class in a cross-legged meditation with our eyes closed and our breath deep. I realized this was the ultimate way to clear the cache.

Namaste

Namaste


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We Are the Common Denominators

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the idea of closure and how to get it (without opening up a whole ‘nother can of worms).

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already had a life experience, situation, or relationship that did not end neatly tied up in a bow. Let’s be real: “adult” life has the potential to be messy and unpredictable. We don’t always abide by the golden rule, even though we know we should. And by now, we’ve likely experienced both sides of the equation – as either the maker of a mess or as the one who tried (unsuccessfully) to clean it up. When you’re on cleanup duty (I been there, sister), I know it’s easy to get stuck in a victim (why me?) or blame (what an asshole!) mentality.

I believe it was during an episode of Oprah that I first became acquainted with the idea that we are the common denominators of everything that happens in our lives. Thereby, we are complicit (perhaps unconsciously), in allowing negative situations or patterns to manifest. On some level, we have said “yes” to pain or drama or heartache (read: we wanted it). This concept resonated with me, deeply, and I became determined to break my own negative relationship patterns by changing myself. It was also at this time that I found myself returning more and more frequently to the mat.

One of the (many) tools that yoga cultivates is the ability to expand our consciousness by containing the conscious mind to a very limited space (the body). Although it might seem counterintuitive, it is actually this containment that allows us to attain greater focus and awareness of ourselves. Since we are the common denominators in our lives, we must first understand our inner landscape before we can begin to see meaningful changes in our external realities.

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In our day-to-day lives we are inundated with stimuli; but when we step on to the mat, we are asked to tune all of that out, focusing one hundred percent on our practice or sadhana. By focusing wholeheartedly on the poses, we are able to direct our undivided attention to very specific parts of our bodies. In each pose, we must be consciously aware of the minute details of what every body part is doing, from the ground up. We must make small corrections when our toes are pointing the wrong direction, or our navels aren’t pulled in, or our arms aren’t extending straight up by our ears.

When we step off the mat and back into the world, our expanded consciousness goes with us. Now we are aware of our behavior toward others, what kinds of things we consume, and how we carry ourselves in the world. We can hear the inner dialogue around our decisions. We can no longer claim to be the victim or blame anyone else for our problems, because we are fully conscious of even our questionable choices. We have shined a light on the shadowy parts of ourselves that had previously slinked by unnoticed. If we have an addiction to pain, it’s no longer allowed to hide in the dark spaces of the unconscious.

Luckily, it is when we begin to shine a light on these shadowy places that we are able to transform. It is at this point we start to understand what we are doing to allow negative situations to manifest in our lives, and, thus, begin the process of creating what it is we really want (and stop creating what we don’t want).

Finally, and most importantly, when we recognize that we are just as much the mess-makers as we are the cleaner-uppers, we can forgive ourselves and others for our shared unfinished business. Cause, if you really think about it, most of us are doing the best we can with the tools we have at any given time. The good news is, with better tools (e.g. yoga) we can all get better results.


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Stick Out Your Butt

As part of our 200 hour teacher training, we have had two illuminating anatomy sessions with Jonathan FitzGordon, an expert on alignment of the human body. Jonathan’s specific focus is to understand optimal muscular and structural alignment during basic, fundamental activities, like standing and walking.

During our first session, Jonathan announced that nearly all humans (ourselves included) stand with our skeletal structure completely out of whack. Most of us have our pelvis tucked, our hips jutting forward, and our shoulders pulling back, all which leads to a tight butt (in a bad way). This misaligned posture forces our muscles to do all kinds of jobs they weren’t designed to do.

Your tucked pelvis - Image Credit: blog.corewalking.com

Correct alignment (left), your tucked pelvis (right) – image credit: blog.corewalking.com

After breaking this news to us, Jonathan asked us to stand up in “Tadasana” or “Mountain Pose,” after which he walked around the room giving us corrections to move our shoulders, hips, and ankles into one vertical line, creating the ideal standing alignment:

[Dryly and with a New York accent] “Stick your butt out. Release your butt. Give your butt a room of its own. Relax your shoulders. Lean forward a little. Deepen your hip creases. Let your rib cage slouch forward. Bend your knees a little. Turn off your butt.”

As I attempted to release my butt (it sounds easier than it really is), I felt myself sway slightly from side to side and front and back, to balance out my newly aligned body. Different muscles in my lower body kicked on and off, on and off, on and off, until, finally, I felt a couple of them turn off completely. It was tremendously strange to shut down such strong lower body muscles, while, simultaneously, feeling a new sense of groundedness in my bones. For maybe the first time ever, my muscles and bones were doing the jobs they were meant to do.

During that first session, Jonathan also introduced us to a muscle I had never heard of before: a hip flexor called the psoas (pronounced SO-AS). Apparently, the psoas is the only muscle that connects the legs to the spine (read: very important). Because the psoas has a natural contraction response during a trauma (like, let’s say, a car accident), the psoas is understood to hold that trauma in the physical body.

The psoas - image credit: blog.corewalking.com

The psoas – image credit: blog.corewalking.com

When I got home, I became aware that a profound shift had taken place in my body. Something (or maybe a few things) had let go that had been gripping for a long, long time (maybe forever). The release was both euphoric and intense. I woke up the next day to a different body than the one I had the day before. I may never be totally sure what was hiding in my psoas, but, the truth is, it doesn’t really matter.

Our physical bodies are the vehicle in which we travel through life. When we experience trauma (literal or emotional), one of our primary response is physical. As a result, we may trap the experience in the body in the form of tense muscles, joints, tissue or ligaments. Over time, tension leads to imbalance, which may later lead to pain. Thus, improperly maintained, our bodies become the sum of our difficult experiences.

When we practice yoga, we facilitate opening in and alignment of the physical body that frees trapped energy and emotions from these experiences. This process is not necessarily pleasant while you’re in the middle of it, but ultimately makes you feel profoundly better than you did before. You may find that when you let go physically, you let go emotionally, as well. When you cycle this stagnant energy out of your body, a new sense of wellbeing arises in its place.

A lot of people practice yoga to look better, but do not realize the profound healing power of yoga to feel better. If you are willing to give it a chance, you might find that having a dramatically better experience of life is as simple as sticking out your butt.

To learn more about Jonathan FitzGordon’s CoreWalking method, visit: http://corewalking.com/


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I Lost My Sparkle Pager

During teacher training last weekend, Stacey proclaimed: “Yogamaya is a teaching school” – in that, instructors are expected to walk around the room and make individual verbal and hands-on physical adjustments to ensure that students are in the proper alignment of each shape.

This comment reminded us of one of the (many) things that originally solidified our friendship: a shared, unapologetic obsession with Grey’s Anatomy. If you haven’t seen the show (or refuse to partake in prime-time television drama), it centers on the trials and tribulations of a group of surgical interns at a teaching hospital called Seattle Grace.

Magical Seattle - Photo Credit: Alsarama

Magical Seattle – Photo Credit: Alsarama

The two main characters, Doctors Meredith Grey and Christina Yang, are up-and-coming surgeons and each other’s “people” (aka best friends). Despite all of the drama that ensues, both personal and professional, Meredith and Christina’s friendship remains constant and unwavering, a pillar of support in a highly unstable and challenging environment.

As part of their ascension to surgical greatness, the interns must vie against each other for assignments, and may be rewarded or reprimanded according to the results. In one particular episode, the characters compete over a “sparkle pager” that would allow the pager recipient to take incoming surgeries. Meredith wins the sparkle pager, but ultimately surrenders it to Christina to help brighten up a dark time in Christina’s life. The sparkle pager becomes a symbol of friendship and sacrifice.

Meredith Grey and Christina Yang - Grey's Anatomy

Meredith Grey and Christina Yang – Grey’s Anatomy

While walking along the Hudson River, last summer, Ali declared: “I have lost my sparkle pager.” This has become one of our many playful (albeit legitimate) ways to send out an SOS. When one of us is is feeling “dark and twisty,” and in need of the sparkle pager, the other is called on to share whatever sparkle she has to give. The sparkle pager allows us to lean on each other when times get rough.

On this path of learning and expansion, there are bound to be pitfalls along the way (e.g. falling on your face in a handstand). Sometimes, it helps to look at a difficult challenge as a teaching environment, where there is an inherent opportunity to learn. And whether you learn by practicing, through the wisdom of a mentor, or through our inevitable mistakes, it’s always good to know you’ve got a friend with a sparkle pager on call.

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Get Connected

As of this week, Beth and I have completed three consecutive weekends of teacher training, two week’s worth of written homework, partner assignments, and reading, not to mention keeping up with our (very) demanding jobs, personal lives and responsibilities (and a blog). Needless to say, it has been a puzzle to make it all work. Even though this was our first full week/end without teacher training, I quickly discovered that I had plenty on the calendar to keep me busy.

Following the weekend’s illuminating lessons on lower body anatomy, pranayama, arm balances, and Ayurveda, we got together with our group members, Courtney and Bronwen, and our mentor, Jen, on Monday night. This small gathering provided an opportunity to express questions and concerns, as well as to practice teaching. We took turns guiding one another through a sequence of poses and then received feedback from our mentor. Although we are all seasoned yoga practitioners, we are still learning what it means to actively teach rather than participate.

On Tuesday evening, I met up with my high school bestie, Caroline, her sister, Sue, and her future sister-in-law, Marcela to try on bridesmaid dresses. After strutting around the showroom in all different shades of chiffon, we each made our final selections and the bride approved!

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Say Yes to the Dress – The Bridesmaid Edition

Succumbing to exhaustion after five days of non-stop action, I reluctantly decided to take Wednesday night “off.” I practiced Pranayama, caught up on some reading and a little television, cooked myself dinner, and put myself to bed early.

With the week finally rounding to a close, I made my monthly trip up to The Bronx Charter School for Children, where I recently became a member of the board of trustees. On the way home from our meeting, I was chit-chatting with another board member about it being Valentine’s Day. A salon owner and stylist, she mentioned that V-Day can be an emotional day for women, especially those who do not have a partner.

The conversation made me think of a V-Day piece I read the previous night (during me time), reminding readers that romantic love, while wonderful, is not enough to sustain us as individuals. Furthermore, when we project expectations that an intimate relationship, partner, or marriage will be enough to complete us or make us happy, we are bound to find disappointment.

That is to say – Valentine’s Day isn’t exclusively about romantic love, it’s also about being connected. And connectedness can take shape in a multitude of ways, whether it’s through family, friendship, being of service to your community, joining with like-minded individuals for an academic, philosophical, or physical pursuit, taking part in a celebration, or simply taking a night to care for your glorious self.

And if you didn’t get it done this Valentine’s Day, fear not! Tomorrow is just as good a day as any to get connected – and I guarantee the restaurants will be less crowded.

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