Monday, July 28, 2008

To Dolly

OK, it's taken me a while to write this because I haven't fully reconciled it yet.

So. You're leaving. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

(For all of you just tuning in, Dolly is my favorite, and currently, my only yoga teacher. She is the teacher who I did my yoga teacher training with. She is the one who helped me realize what yoga is, what it means, that you can practice it and still be yourself, that you don't have to practice anyone's yoga but your own.)

Again, you're leaving. I'm genuinely happy for the promise your future holds, and I want all the citizens of Oregon to know how damn lucky they will be to have you in their midst. I know I will not be alone in feeling the gaping hole your absence will leave here. There will never be another Dolly, and though I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to practice with you these last couple years, I am distraught about you leaving.

I know what you'd say...there are great teachers here! You'll find another! Perhaps. But none like you. You have the unique ability to blend just the right amount of traditional yoga with a more modern, challenging, and creative practice. You have this way of making Om accessible for even the tough guys in the back row. You make the newbie feel as comfortable as the long-time practitioner. Week after week you switch it up, challenge us, console us, inspire us, encourage us, keep us guessing, keep us laughing—and no matter what state we were in at the beginning, 90 minutes later we're all nicer, kinder, sweeter, happier, gentler, and calmer. Because that is your magic. That is your calling. That, my dearest Dolly, is your undeniable gift.

I just want you to know what an impact you've had on my life in particular, how appreciative I continue to be for your guidance, knowledge, example, and friendship. I broke through a lot of personal barriers because of you...all because one day I had this insane idea to get up at 4:30am so I could go practice yoga. Good thing I'm a morning person, right? As they say, the early bird gets the worm. I got a hell of a lot more than that. I learned to face my fears, to get outside of my comfort zone, to play my edges, and it's all because you gave me a place where I felt safe enough to do it. Thank you so very much, Dolly. I am practically a new woman today because of what I learned from you.

I could go on and on about what you mean to me, how much you will be missed, what a fantastic teacher you are, how cool you are, and all that. Easily. For reams and reams. But in closing, I will simply say Dolly, I love you, love the spirit you are, I thank you, and I wish you nothing but all the very best. You are a gem of a being, a one-and-only, the brightest star I have ever encountered.

And to the rest of you who are reading, if you will please, in your way, send love and good wishes out into the universe for Dolly, I would also be most appreciative.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Recommendation

Please check out Melody Hiatt White's new book,
By My Side: Parenting from a Higher Consciousness

I have had the good fortune to have been able to practice yoga with Melody, and as a student and friend of Melody's, I can attest to the fact that she embodies living from a higher consciousness in every way.

About By My Side:
In By My Side, Melody White eloquently lays out 10 simple and effective principles to help strengthen our role as parents. Discovering these principles as she made her own journey through parenthood, White reflects on the learning experiences and challenges she faced as she found the right path. White guides you to a better understanding of your purpose and role as parent as you come to understand the great power and responsibility you hold. She willingly exposes her own soul as she lovingly walks you through the maze of parenting. You're left with greater strength and confidence in performing your role not only as a parent, but also as a much stronger and more balanced human being.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thank you...

to the folks at Christian Yoga Magazine for rerunning my Mudras in Christian Imagery blog post (and for the lovely formatting) on their site!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Who knew?

Back to the mat on a regular basis again, and damn, it feels de-lish! Although I've definitely lost some skill, I'm hoping with time, strength-building, and regular practice I'll be back to where I was before.

But an interesting thing happened today that made me remember how blessed I am. To be grateful for this day, this body, this life. After class, someone I don't know well but am rather fond of told me I was "an inspiration." Here I am thinking how my Mountain Climbers suck these days, how I'm too weak to get to full typical perfectionist fashion, I was beating myself up. Yet, to someone, my practice or my determination was inspirational.

This was just a simple reminder to not take your unique blessings for granted. To appreciate them, to humbly shine through dedication to your own practice. Every body is different. You never know what each day will bring, so cherish each and every one. It's extremely easy for me to forget how fortunate I am to even be able to practice on a regular basis with such wonderful teachers. Some people have neither the health, time, nor discretionary income to allow them to partake, even when they desperately want to.

It was good for me to hear that today, not so much for the ego stroke, but to shake me out of my comfortable complacency. This is a good body I have...why do I continue to malign it? Even on my worst day I have more than some will ever have in a lifetime. So it's time I woke up and took note and shifted my thinking. In this skin is a damn good place to be.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I told you she's special!

The April 2008 issue of Fit Yoga magazine features the effervescent Dolly Stavros as its "Hometown Yogi." Ya'll know I've been singing her praises since the moment I met her. Well, finally, the rest of the world is catching on.

This month, she's on pages 84 and 85...but one day, I'm thinking (hoping) she'll be on the cover. There's no yogi more worthy, in my opinion.

Be big and beautiful, Dolly. Shine your light!

Want more Dolly? Hey, get in line...we all do! But in the meantime, check out Red Stone Yoga.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmm...

So I'm not sure if I'm completely freaked out by this or not. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been on the bench for several weeks...I have not been able to practice and it has SUCKED. That also means no centering or meditating or OMs because I'm a slacker and I just can't get in the zone at home.

Anyway, today I'm working away on my computer. I realize I need to print my mobile phone bill so I can itemize and expense it, but I recently disconnected and moved my printer. So off I go to fetch it. I plug it into the outlet on my wall, plug another cord into the USB port on my computer, and press On. I turn back to my computer to send my document to the printer, and suddenly it starts to print even though I have not sent my document yet. I start getting aggravated, which is just a continuation of some earlier aggravation: For some reason around noonish, all hell was breaking loose. I was being instant messaged by two people from work at the same time as I was trying to respond to a text message that had just come in from my favorite man, at the same time my doorbell was ringing and my dog and my friend's Pomeranian that I am watching simultaneously begin their deep-bark, high-bark alerts. By the time I answered the door, my sister-in-law (who was on the other side) could hear me cursing through the door and looked like she was ready to duck and run when it finally swung open. Who could blame her.

But back to the printer.

Again, I'm aggravated, because this printer is brand new. So when I press On, I expect it to act appropriately and not give me any static. But it's acting strange and now it has just printed and spat out a piece of paper that I will have to throw away, which means wasted toner and wasted paper, which I hate. I snatch the paper out of the tray and turn it over and for a moment I think, cool, it didn't print at all, because it looks like the page is totally blank. Then my eye catches something in the upper left corner of the paper, a little black blemish...and this is a photo of what I saw, cross my heart, I swear:

Oh. My. God.



My printer just told me I need to take a deep breath and chill. Or the Universe did. Or God. Or someone.

Of all the numbers. All the letters. All the possible combinations...I get O and M. O and M thisclose. The only letters on the paper. You know how sometimes when a printer goes wonky, it prints gibberish all over the page, a stray character here and there, symbols and whatnot? Well, my printer didn't wig out and spew gibberish. It malfunctioned and proclaimed OM, just one time in stark black on a blank white page. Very Zen. Very spartan. Very clearly OM.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why no new posts?

Well, I've been on the bench for five weeks, going on six. I'm hoping this is my last week off, because I miss my yoga, and I'm becoming a chunky little monkey. As soon as I'm back on my mat, I'm hoping to share more yoga experiences here.

Again, I apologize for the dry spell!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy V-Day, fellow yogis!

How do I love yoga? Let me count the ways...

A top ten list:

10. Yoga has gotten me in touch with my inner ballerina...even my girlfriends are impressed by my splits. And I still can't believe I can do them!

9. When I'm doing yoga, I'm not thinking about the bills I need to pay, the yardwork I need to do, or the toilet I need to get fixed.

8. Yoga makes me feel alive.

7. Yoga has helped me transform my body.

6. Practicing yoga helps me to remember how incredibly blessed I am.

5. Yoga challenges my mind, body, and soul.

4. Yoga gives me the opportunity to stop and breathe.

3. Yoga reminds me to love myself and love others, even when I'm not so happy about me, and when all hell is breaking loose in my world.

2. Yoga is like a prayer, a moving meditation. It reminds me of my connection to God and the Universe.

1. Yoga just feels GOOD!!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dolly: Everyone's Hero of the Month!

First, let me say that I continue to be impressed by the creative energy behind Asana Activewear. Not only is this start-up owned by two of the genuinely nicest people, not only are the clothes fantabulous, but the new Web site is what Web 2.0 is all about: a community of like-minded people.

So hats off to the Asana Activewear family, and hats off to Dolly Stavros for being chosen as the site's first Hero of the Month. I can't think of anyone else more deserving, I really can't.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tried-n-True: Lily Lotus Om Karma Cargo Pant

I originally bought these pants from Asana Activewear (for the studded OM, of course!) thinking they'd be supercute for lounging around or running errands. But after lounging 'round in them two or three times and seeing not only how comfy they are, but how they retain their shape, I thought, hey, I think I can actually practice in these! And so I did.

The verdict? My new favorite pants for yoga! And home! With boots! Without! You know how sometimes you buy pants for practice and practice in them, and they aren't what you thought they'd be? Well, these were brilliant in annoying seams, no bagging in the knees or seat. I walked into class and walked out in them still looking and feeling good. Two big thumbs up from me! And now that I've discovered a similar style from Lily Lotus, I think I'm going to buy those too.

Sidenote on Lily Lotus: I love, love, love this line. It's modern, edgy yoga wear. You could definitely wear it to class or just out and about and look fantastic. Selection is pared down, but crazysexycool.

Kudos to Cay

Dolly is irreplaceable; that is a given. So I do feel for new instructors or subs who have to step into her classes. But having said that, let me just say how thrilled I am that Cay is the one who is taking over Dolly's Thursday morning Power Vinyasa class. She is one of a handful of of my favorites...and I've never really taken a class with her before. However, I did go through teacher training with her, and was very impressed with her tone while teaching as well as her yoga...she rocks the arm balances!

Anyway, today was our first Thursday with her, and class was challenging, inspiring, and invigorating. Not bad considering I rolled into class on about four hours of sleep (When your boy calls, sleep can wait. I'll sleep plenty when I'm dead). Cay has a lovely, soothing voice and I love her language: "give it all you've got," "just two more breaths," etc. She pushes gently and reminds you that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

Her sequencing was great; we warmed up with some classic Sun Sals, and we did splits of every sort: Standing Splits, Splits Prep, full Splits, Flying Splits, so I was a happy girl. I need lots of splits and deep hamstring stretches to counter (or complement) all the lunging and squatting I'm doing at the gym. It feels good (well, sometimes, not really), but I know too much or not enough of one or the other will leave me underdeveloped in the hamstrings, or overdeveloped and too tight. So when I can get a lot of stretching and hamstring work in yoga, I can hit it hard in the gym and not feel like I'm locking up.

But back to Cay. Music was also excellent, the kind you need to get you moving at 5:45am. Classic and trance-y yoga tracks, plus a lovely Savasana track. By that point, I was so pleasantly exhausted I could've slept right there on the floor for a bit without a care in the world. So hats off to Cay for a wonderful first day. Class was sparse, which is always the case when Dolly is absent, but I think once the most of the regulars take a class with Cay, they'll all be back.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ha! There are some kinky yogis out there...

Just checked blog stats. All the keyword searches that have lead people to The Yogaphile were innocuous.

Except one: "yoga crotch shots."

YOGA CROTCH SHOTS?!!! What on Earth? I mean, I could see how that might be one's thing, and I vaguely remember saying something to that effect when I posted a photo of my Flying Split. Oy vey. Why does anything even surprise me anymore?

Oh well. Good for a laugh anyway!

The Myths of Happiness

A friend recently sent me a link to this ABC/Diane Sawyer snippet on The Myths of Happiness. I couldn't embed the video here, but it's good stuff, especially if you need more proof of the power of positive thinking and meditation. The video begins after a 30-second ad for Netflix...could not be avoided, but hey, it's only 30 seconds, right!

What's that little Bobby McFerrin ditty? Don't Worry, Be Happy...yeah. He was right. I think that's my new mantra for 2008.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm baaack...

After 28 days off, I rolled out my mat and practiced this morning. Man, it felt so good! Those OMs felt like home! Mind you, the 28 days off felt good too, not because I needed a break from yoga, but because for most of it, I was on vacation having the time of my life. Plus, breaking routine every once in a while is good. You get outside yourself and your schedule and realize there is a whole world still going on out there.

While I was away from yoga, I was again reminded of the less obvious effects of yoga in my life. Sure, there is the physical (must admit that I have been doing splits at least three times a week to keep my hamstrings from locking up!) but yoga for me has become a sanctuary for my body and mind. I've found that when I've been confused by the mixed messages of organized religion, or when I've become the crabby little crab I can be, yoga is my great equalizer. It's not a religion, no. And yet it's not just an exercise regime, either. It's hard to put your finger on what yoga really is, so I will not attempt to define it. All I know is when I go too long without practicing, I start to feel shallow. Disconnected. From myself and others.

So while I'm sad to see my vacation end, I'm glad to be back on my mat, and I continue to be grateful for the loving physical and spiritual guidance of my teachers. Which has got me thinking: How can I spread the wealth that is yoga? How can I help others find their way to yoga? I may have gone through teacher training, but I'm still too chicken and too busy to take on teaching. I'm a good mouthpiece for it, for sure, but that's not enough. Can you imagine a world in which there were more yogis? Heck, how about just getting our politicians signed up? That'd probably fix a whole lot of what's wrong in the world in itself. Anyway, I'm wondering, I'm thinking, how do we get more people interested?