There is a concept in yoga called "setting an intention". I really struggled with this when I first found yoga. Setting an intention consists of thinking of a problem, or a goal at the start of your practice and then set it aside while you move through your practice. Or even more bizarre, to send someone else "the energy you create through your practice". I tended to shy away from any teacher that brought such things up. To me, yoga was and is a science. I didn't want to hear any of that mumbo-jumbo.
Fast-forward a couple of years....
Upon much reflection, and research, I have discovered that setting an intention is a legitimate way to retrain or refocus your brain. We are creatures of habit and when we bring our focus repeatedly to setting goals or solving problems or even sending someone else energy, we start to build new pathways for change.
How it started making sense to me......
The science of yoga teaches that everything in the universe is connected through vibrations and light. The science of quantum mechanics agrees, observing that it is impossible to completely separate the observer from what is being observed. That discovery was made almost 100 years ago, and they're still trying to figure it out.
I've decided I don't mind that they can't explain it. I've noticed in my own life that like attracts like. What you send out comes back. What you give, you get. <3
"How can I improve my life today? If I can't improve my own life, how can I improve the life of someone else?"
Like Ron Popeil says "Set it and forget it" :) The answer will come to you.
See you tomorrow xoxoxoxo
Weather-65 & Sunny
Students-11, 2 chair 9 mat
I get hugged about 20 times every Thursday morning. It's one of the highlights of my week.
I have been teaching a weekly chair yoga class at the West Allis Senior Center for about a year and a half. We started out with about 8 people the first couple of weeks, but have steadily grown our group to 20-30 people who come in regularly to breathe, stretch and smile with me.
This class is one of those examples of how I teach yoga as a way to improve your life, not just your body. I give tips for breathing exercises at home, ways to adapt the postures in different ways around the house, as well as balance and wellness tips. People often gather early to chat and exchange ideas and recipes. I am truly lucky to teach there. What an amazing group of people.
How did the hugs come about? My dad attends almost every class, and he hugs me as he arrives and leaves. About a year into class, those hugs started to go through the whole group. (*grateful heart*) Not everyone wants a hug, and that's ok. Everyone is respected.
Hugs are healing. When you give a hug, you get a hug. Hug yourself! Hug someone else!
Repeat as necessary xoxoxoxo
Sending LOVE out to the Universe, one class a t a time <3 <3 <3
If you want more information on this 30 minute chair yoga class (additional 15 minute brain-boost meditation immediately follows), see the schedule and description page or call the Senior Center at 414-302-8700. This class is free for members of the center, $20.0/year to join Thursdays- 10:30am
Weather 65 & Sunny
Students 23 (WOW....our best Sunday yet!) 4 chair, 19 mat
Organization-West Allis Senior Center
Money Raised $97
Special thanks to my students at the center who couldn't attend the class, but donated money anyway....we raised $45 before class even started!
Half-way through <3
This year is so much more FUN than last year. My nervousness has faded. I am more solid in my teachings. I have more confidence in sharing my voice.
One of the things I love most about my yoga practice is how quiet and still my mind has become. I have had to train and retrain my brain to focus on the task at hand. I was one of those people who had a television show playing no matter what I was doing. Cooking; cleaning, playing a game on another screen. I always needed SOMETHING in the background. I couldn't be alone with my thoughts. I also watched a lot of bad TV :D
Cultivating the quiet part of my practice has been both a challenge and a joy. I have found that the more that you need something, the quicker your body responds. I NEEDED that quiet. My brain was craving it. The quiet side of yoga quickly went from something I dreaded to something I craved (much like sweet potatoes :D).
If you have trouble with the quiet part of yoga, or the quiet part of life, come down and give these classes a try. 45 minutes in nature is an awesome way to start to cultivate your own quiet mind. Having someone give you permission to sit still and breathe is a great way to allow yourself to do so. These classes are for the community. Everyone is welcome. Everyone can work at their own pace. 15 days left!
Weather 65 & Sunny
Students-20, 18 mat, 2 chair
Organization-Reflections on Wellness for Women
See you tomorrow!! <3
They say your vibe attracts your tribe.....
This group of people continually inspires me. They are showing up day after day, committed to their health and their bodies. Arriving first thing in the morning, ready to connect to the day through gentle movement of the body and focusing on their breath. Today is Day 14 and most of the group here has been to at least half of the classes. Many of them are also with me in other classes throughout the week!
If these classes work for your schedule, I really encourage you to check us out sometime. Tomorrow marks the halfway point....don't miss your chance! Join a friendly, growing community :)
Week 2 Totals are AWESOME!!
Students-94! (up 17% from week 2 last year)
Money raised-$328.63 (up 80% from week 2 last year)
Organizations-Disabled American Veterans, WA Christmas Parade, WAPD Chaplains, DWABID, Shining Strings, WAWM Champion for a Child, Hunger Task Force.
Weather-65 & SUNNY
Students-12, 10 mat, 2 chair
Organization-Hunger Task Force
See you tomorrow!
Day 13. Take 2.
My computer crashed just as I was about to post today's blog post and I lost everything but the picture.
I was not amused.
I am smack dab in the middle of this yoga marathon where I double my work load, teaching 14 classes per week instead of 7. Not to mention the time I spend on these posts and advertising the event. Without a day off in between. I was tired. It was Friday evening. I wanted to be finished.
Usually, I love every minute of it. These classes are part of my own practice off the mat, and something that I absolutely am choosing to do. I want to learn everything I can about communicating effectively, both in my teachings and in these posts. This is where I practice that. I want to see people getting healthier and stronger, and that's happening, too. I am offering my version of world peace with every class I teach.
Yet, for about 10 minutes, I was completely DONE. I was taking the computer crashing as a sign to turn it off and turn on Netflix.
From experience, I recognized the signs of one of my oldest patterns...quitting when a problem comes up. Walking away and changing the subject, maybe coming back to it tomorrow, maybe not. Maybe Day 13 just didn't get written about. Who would notice?
Through trial and error, I've learned what to do when I want to quit. I allow myself to walk away long enough to take some deep breaths. This time I also pressed my hands to my sternum, releasing oxytocin* in my body. This allowed my boyfriends calming words to sink in. He reminded that I am mainly writing these posts for myself as a journal of sorts, that it's just a fun thing to do. He also gave me the idea to use the crash as part of the story. Thanks, baby xoxo
My original post for today included ten reasons why you should try out my classes. After my computer crashed, I offer you one reason: RESILIENCE
This morning, one of my new students asked me why I am so enthusiastic about yoga, why I am so willing to get up early and give it away for free.
To put it succinctly, before I found yoga, I was a mess. Physically, mentally, emotionally, a mess. A person that no one wanted to be around. I was always sick, or in pain, spending hours at the doctor, going from one specialist to another, getting this test done, recovering from that procedure. I was sick and in pain and no one could really tell me why. I had plenty of diagnosis, plenty of medications. I still felt like crap, ALL OF THE TIME.
Bottles of pills and miserable pain seemed to be the only life I was going to live.
Thankfully, I had a moment of insight. When my body had finally worn itself out so much that the simple act of coughing caused me to break eight ribs, I knew something had to change. While I was at the specialist getting a scan done to see why the bones of a 37 year old were just breaking inside of her body, someone said, "you must drink a lot of soda. Soda causes the minerals in bones to break down".
I had literally never considered that. I drank soda because it tasted GOOD. I never thought it was harming me. Water was boring. Even if I got thirsty overnight, I sipped soda. In examining my diet, I discovered I was mostly eating chemicals masquerading as food. The only produce I bought were bananas and onions (don't laugh....it's an epidemic in this society).
I never looked at soda the same again. I began to view it as a cup of chemicals designed to keep me sick and addicted, Although I have never quit anything cold turkey, soda is the closest I came. I switched to another brand, allowing myself one mini-can a day until I no longer wanted it (because addictions work on multiple levels, you have to break the pattern on multiple levels. I also switched brands when I quit smoking).
Several months later, I found my way to my mat for the first time. Since I was already becoming more aware of how my choices were affecting my health, I was motivated to keep going.
I currently eat a mostly vegan diet (NO!!!!! dairy) and am off all medications. I couldn't tell you the last time I had to go to the doctor. I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been in my life and I want the same for you.
That's why I teach these classes :)
Stayed tuned for more on my journey to my mat.....
Students-9, 1 chair, 8 mat
Organization: Shining Strings
I teach so I can learn. I teach so I have people to do yoga with. I teach because yoga has been the biggest source of healing in my life, and I know others need to heal, too.
A word about one of my teachers....
A man named BKS Iyengar died two months before I started yoga teacher training. At the time I started my training, I was still fairly new to the yoga community and had no idea who he was (much less how to pronounce his name...)
Little did I know how much I would learn from him. My instructor used his book "Light On Yoga" to teach from. As an almost complete newbie, his straightforward descriptions, pictures and rating system made SENSE to me. To this day, I still refer to it when I need to clarify something. I often paraphrase Iyengar's advice on Savasana by telling my students that it is considered to be the hardest and the easiest pose all at once, and for the same reason. You have to lay there motionless, quieting your mind.
Practice makes perfect, even if it takes a lifetime :)
Who inspires you?
Sending LOVE to the Universe, one class at a time <3
Weather 62 & Sunny
Students-12, 10 mat, 2 chair
Organization-Downtown West Allis Business Improvement District
Money raised $40
PS....I write these posts mostly for myself. A journal to remember how I stopped hurting the world with my anger and started helping the world with my love. I am not a writer, so forgive the errors and run-on sentences. <3 <3 <3
Monday morning. 7am. Soggy ground. Cloudy sky. Chilly air. The recipe for staying home in bed if I ever heard one.
And yet, 12 people showed up for class.
Let's face it, there are days we are in the mood to work, and days we want to sleep in. How do we find the motivation to show up for ourselves instead of hitting the snooze button?
Here are some tips that help me when my motivation is low:
1- Stop thinking of exercise as a punishment for what you ate. Think of it as a celebration for what your body can do for you. Think of it as a way to improve not only your physical body, but also your mental health. Learn how to cheer for yourself :) (I co-teach spin/yoga with my cousin. I'm really not a fan of spin. However, I've learned to love it, to come to class with all my enthusiasm and go all out for 30 minutes. Because attitude matters. And it's worth it. And my quads feel strong :D)
2-Know that yoga itself is a science, and just by showing up on your mat, you are starting to change your DNA on the cellular level. The more work you put in, the more benefit you will see.
3-By exercising first thing in the morning, you are setting the tone for your whole day. Stretching into your body and mindfully breathing is a wonderful way to care for yourself, and typically, when we mindfully take care of ourselves once, it becomes easier to implement the new pattern.
What motivates you?
Weather-56 & cloudy
Students-12, 10 mat, 2 chair
What goes around, comes around. It's a basic truth of life. We learn it on the playground, we learn it from our parents, we learn it from the Universe through trial and error.
If you're anything like me, it's a lot easier to see other peoples karma than your own.
For most of my life, I thought of karma as something that happened to people, not really something anyone could control. I also thought of "karma" in terms of my relationship with others, not with myself. I had almost zero regard for my health and well-being, but wanted everyone else around me to. I found myself stuck in the same, depressing patterns, wondering why no one was interested enough in coming to help me out of my misery. Wondering what I had to do to get a little help around here.....
Fast-forward several years, a lot of work and a thousand pounds of sweat and tears.....
These yoga classes demonstrate my new view on Karma...Life is an echo. What you put out there comes back to you. It's not just the negative, although that tends to come back, too. It's the positivity that you put out there that really matters. Especially nowadays when there is so much anger and frustration out there. Instead of reacting to other people's negativity like I used to, I really focus on bringing my best, positive self forward. These classes are my chance to practice that.....
What are you putting out in the Universe?
Come raise your vibrations.....what goes around, comes around <3 <3 <3
Weather-62 & cloudy
Students-10, 8 mat, 2 chair
Organization-WA Christmas Parade
Week One....DONE :)
As with any process, the way that I plan my classes has slowly evolved over the years. I used to sit with pen and paper, writing down my sequence and keeping notes with me so I could refer to them throughout the class. Soon, I stopped needing my notes, and would often change what I had planned anyway :) After that, I started meditating before my classes. For me, the quiet side of yoga has always been HARD! Having something to focus on while doing it, instead of just trying to force my mind to be quiet, has always been helpful for me. I bring my attention and focus to who will be attending, what they might need, and plan accordingly. :)
That process has had to go out the window for these classes! I never how many people will be there. I have to be prepared to teach a wide variety of ages and skill levels, including helping people modify for limitations Before yoga, I would have been thrown by so many unknown variables. Now, I've learned to embrace the challenge.
Yoga helps you find steadiness in your breath and in your body, which translates into steadiness in life xoxo
Week One Totals-
Organizations-WAWM Healthy Lifestyle Coalition, CAAD, WISH, Sodexo Backpack, Community Based Transition, Survive Alive House, Cat Network
Students 13, 12 mat, 1 chair
*Yesterday I posted that this years attendance has already doubled from last year. That turned out to be a little overzealous (numbers are not my strong suit) :) 16 percent is the actual number....that's still pretty amazing to me. Even more impressive is the growing number of people dedicated to being there everyday.
23 more classes to go...it's not too late!!!
Weather- 65 & Rainy (indoors)
Students- 15, 13 mat, 2 chair
Organization- Survive Alive House
Money Raised- $27
Slow down, you move too fast....
There is something special about an early morning outdoor yoga class. Connecting to nature for extended periods of time, especially when you are moving mindfully with your breath, is one of the most healing things you can do.
I recently found last years' class description. I'll post it now, because it hasn't changed :D
First, we sit and breathe in the sunshine.
Then, we move and breathe, but only as much as our bodies want to (slow sun salutations, standing poses, stretching)
Finally, we lay down and breathe in the sunshine.
Come join the growing number of people committed to being there over and over again!!
Weather 65 & Sunny
Students 8, 7 mat 1 chair
Organization: Community Based Transition
Money Raised $24
Sending LOVE to the Universe, one class at a time xoxo
The answer is always yes. You should go to yoga. Even if "going to yoga" is "resting in childs pose for an hour", I encourage you to take time to take care of yourself, each and every day.
The other day I posted two quotes from my website. Today, I offer two more.
Again, these are words I live by, words I aspire to, words that remind me of why I fell in love with yoga in the first place. I hope they inspire you, too <3
"May we uplift and elevate all those we come in contact with"-Kia Miller
i take these words seriously. They are often the words that one of my favorite teachers ends her classes with. Kia Miller is such a role model to me, spreading her light and love wherever she goes. She inspires, encourages and makes the crazy world of Kundalini Yoga accessible. kia taught me to believe in myself, and I hope I help you do the same!
The second quote is from me. Yep. A little shameless self-promoting here :D
"Thank you for taking the time to take care of yourself"-Susie Melott
From almost the first time I took my place in front of students, these were the words that I ended each class with. They kept coming back to me. Thank you for taking the time to take care of yourself. From years of experience, I know it's easier to stay home and eat cookies. I know there is often something else to do, somewhere else to be. Choosing to show up on your mat, taking the time to improve your mood, flexibility and breath control is the stuff that world peace is made of. Seriously. Creating ease and peace in your body creates ease and peace in your life.
It's the ripple effect :)
<3 What goes around comes around.....spread love, starting with yourself <3
Weather 65, sunny GORGEOUS!! (Seriously, show up just for the sunshine :) )
Organization: Sodexo Backpack Program
13 students, 2 chair, 11 mat
Money raised $26.50
Monday, Monday. So good to me. :) :) :)
It's always a question how many people will show up for class on any given day. Especially on a Monday. I was delighted to see 14 people show up, including a pregnant lady, a preteen in a cast and a couple of senior citizens!
yep, folks, these classes are for EVERYbody.
I am big on teaching people to listen to their own bodies, modify for what they need and ask questions if they have them! Yoga is the science of moving your body, which means anyone will benefit. Not everyone has the same strength and flexibility, but we all have a universal need to build on what we do have.
See you tomorrow!
Weather 65 sunny (GORGEOUS!)
Organization: WISH Program
14 students, 13 mat 1 chair
Money raised $33
Sunday, July 16th. My 42nd birthday. These classes are a continued gift to myself and my community <3
There are several quotes on my website. Some from fellow yogis, some from authors. Each were picked carefully and have been a true lesson to me. I used a couple in class today....
"Yoga is not about touching your toes. It's about what you learn on the way down"-Unknown
This speaks to the beginner in my heart. It supports the yogic attitude of being interested in how you feel, versus how you look. Sometimes, just showing up for class is the hard part. The benefits of moving your body are immeasurable.
"Whatever you do in life, yoga helps you do it better"-Chuck Miller
Yoga helps you cultivate a calm mind and attention to detail. That combination translates off the mat as a calm mind and attention to detail :) The effects of yoga are cumulative....the more you do, the more benefit you will see.
28 days left......
12 students, 1 chair, 11 mat
Money Raised $45
And so it begins.....My Second Annual Pay-it-Forward to the Universe.
Do you love your job so much you're willing to work the early morning shift, 30 days in a row, for free?
I'm lucky enough that I do :)
Here is your official invitation to the 2nd Annual 30 Days of Summer Yoga, where I teach 30 days in a row as a way to bring health and happiness to my community through movement and breath.
Last year, my theme was "building confidence". For a chick with a life-long relationship with anxiety, it was a big step to be that committed to something.
This year, my theme is simply "gratitude". An unexpected side-effect of my yoga practice was this overwhelming need to give back, to pay it forward, and sometimes, to sit silently in awe of my blessings. And then work hard for more :)
During this 30 days, I will be guiding people through a simple, 45 minute practice each morning. Come cultivate your own connection to mind and body, your own "Attitude of Gratitude". It's free...what more do you need?
Day One Organization-
West Allis-West Milwaukee Healthy Lifestyles Coalition
12 students, 2 chair, 10 mat
Money raised, $36