Friday, June 21, 2019

Risk and Commitment



"Life is a journey, not a destination." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm sure you've heard this quote before. It is often considered a misconception that encourages us to lack direction and wander about aimlessly, though perhaps we might consider it another way. 

Destinations motivate us, but it's the journey that expands our possibilities and potential. So...what if we see the experience we have along the way to be equally important as the goal - the destination we head towards?

We'd all like a guarantee before heading in a certain direction, making a decision or taking a risk, but the irony is that in taking a risk we are already committing to the outcome. Real commitment comes before knowing where anything is going. 

Most people come to yoga with some sort of goal; to reduce stress, gain strength and stamina, improve balance and stability, or to relieve chronic pain. We commit to the practice and soon realize there is much more to it. The practice is not about getting anywhere. It's about observing yourself and accepting the experience of the moment. 

In yoga we take a risk when we reach out in a pose not knowing where it will lead us, and then we commit to being where we are as we take a moment to pause. Accepting where we are, and that where we are is where we need to be leads us to realize that there is no destination, it's all about the journey! 

This month we practiced a walking meditation, perhaps you'd like to give it a try. Walk slowly around the room with eyes gazing downward and with each step feel the risk in the lifting and the commitment in the landing. Repeat silently, "There is no destination, it's all about the journey." 

Trust the journey, 
Kathe




A Universe of Stories

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum summertime! 

The Summer Reading Program theme this year was "A Universe of Stories," and we know there are a universe of stories out there just waiting to be told. Mel and I spent a delightful morning with the kids of Iberia Parish Library. These little library patrons sat enchanted as we took them on a yoga storytelling adventure. 





It's encouraging to see today's kids, who are often restless unless their eyes are glued to an electronic device, settle down and listen to a story. No visuals, just imagination at play! A renewed appreciation for the importance of honing kids' imaginative capacities has surfaced, and storytelling is an important part of this process. Creative and analytical abilities prepare kids for the future. 


Storytelling goes beyond merely reading a story though. Performance storytelling enhances language, listening, and critical thinking skills. Listeners imagine the characters and their adventures. Mel and I take it a step further by introducing kids to yoga postures. By acting out the story with yoga postures, children learn to transfer images into words, stimulating the logical and creative sides of the brain. We believe storytelling offers a new dimension to nurturing lifelong creativity and imagination. Are you're young ones ready for a yoga storytelling adventure?

Mahalo, we serve.
Kathe

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Awaken the Greatness Within By Melanie Moyer





To awaken the greatness within we need to stop looking "out there" and begin to look within. We are raised, especially in this society, to look outside of ourselves for validation and self worth. We look "out there" for others to recognize us and make us feel praiseworthy. If others don't bestow recognition upon us or worse they criticize us we then fall apart. We look to others for acknowledgement, to tell us we are doing well, looking good or are worthy. We look "out there" for happiness and love. 

To awaken to the greatness within we need to begin to look within. Look within where your connection to God, the Source, the Light, the Divine, the Spirit, the Soul, or whatever you wish to label it resides. This is where we find that we don't need to be acknowledged by others to feel whole because we are already whole. How liberating it is to not need acknowledgement from "out there". How comforting and enlightening to awaken to the greatness within. 

One way to begin the process of awakening the greatness within is to look within through meditation. Meditation does not need to be long; it can be for as little as 3 minutes. It does not need to be complicated, simply close your eyes and start to pay attention to your breath. Watch the breath flowing in and out of your nose like it is the most fascinating thing ever...because it is...the breath is the source of life and without it nobody can live. As you watch your breath, inevitably thoughts will arise. Acknowledge the thought and then watch it float on by like a cloud in the sky and then come back to your breath. These 3 minutes can not only calm you and make your day seem to flow a little smoother, it can begin to awaken the greatness within. The time you spend is not nearly as important as practicing on a daily basis. It only takes a few moments to awaken the greatness within, but we want to give ourselves the thumbs up consistently least we fall back on relying on others to give us the thumbs up, looking "out there" rather than within. 

This passage from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass suitably sums this up:

I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content,
And if each and all be aware, I sit content. 

Last but not least I invite you to ponder these words from Paramahamsa Yogananda:

Seek spiritual riches within.
What you are is much greater than
anyone or anything else you have ever yearned for. 



Love, Light and Laughter
Melanie Moyer







  




Monday, October 29, 2018

Yoga fun in Kenner, LA!

News from Walter Schneckenberger Elementary School:


The Impossible Dream: A Yoga Storytelling Adventure by Kathe Hudson and Melanie Moyer (from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana)
October 23, 2018

Our 2nd grade students were able to participate in this lively storytelling combining a Cajun retelling with yoga to help students become mindful and focused on Monday, October 22nd. Through literature and yoga to help students, the authors of The Impossible Dream encouraged kids to express themselves and inspire them to follow their dreams through self-discovery. In addition, students were able to develop their physical literacy skills while learning about Louisiana and Acadian history. 






Thanks to librarian, Julie Broussard for the outstanding post. We had an amazing time with the Scheneckenberger 2nd graders!




Monday, October 8, 2018

Remember Who You Are


You are a spiritual being having an earthly experience! Remind yourself often that you are brave, you are bright, and you are beautiful!
You are brave every single day just by living here on the earth plane where things can get quite challenging. Surely there are not a lot of days when some trial doesn't present itself to you in some way, yet you continue on, overcoming every obstacle. You continue to take action despite your fears and doubts. Yes, dear one, you are so very brave. Please don't ever forget that. 
You are bright like a shining star! You have no idea how many people you've touched in your lifetime; how you've managed to brighten the day for someone just by your smile or by listening to someone who was having one of those challenging moments. 
You are beautiful. You might look in the mirror and see flaws, but this is only an illusion. You are perfect just as you are. Remember you are a beautiful, infinite spirit having a temporary earthy experience. 
Our story this month; Remember Who You Are.
This month we practiced a fun set of poses that move smoothly from one into the next such as moving into Warrior III from Warrior I by shifting the body forward, lifting the back leg and reaching forward. One particular pose we practiced that some of us find fun, while others find challenging is Triangle Pose. The great thing about Triangle Pose is that it becomes much more accessible with a block set next to the foot. Here are the steps if you would like to try out this pose. Have fun! You can do this, Remember Who You Are!

Begin standing in Mountain Pose and place a block on the outside of your right foot. Take a big step back with the left foot and turn the foot to face the long side of your mat. Bring the arms up to shoulder height, along side your body, parallel to the floor. Reach out actively through the fingertips of both hands, palms facing down, and soften the tops of the shoulders. Begin to extend your right hand forward and hinge at your right hip to bring your hand down to the block, keeping your front body and pelvis facing toward the long side of your mat. Reach up toward the sky with your left hand. Breathe slowly and evenly. To come out of the pose use your abs to hinge back up, lower your arms and step forward into Mountain Pose. Move the block to your left side and step back with the right foot. Repeat the steps.

Love, light and laughter, 
Melanie




Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What? ...a pain in the neck


Is life giving you a pain in the neck? Are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Is so, you're not alone. 




Neck and shoulder pain usually go together. The most common cause of neck and shoulder pain is stress, either emotional or physical. Much of the physical tension we experience comes from our lifestyle choices. Many of us spend most of our days sitting, rounding our bodies forward while driving, working on a computer, or scrolling through our smartphones. Yes, even the way we sleep can give us a pain in the neck, and in our high-stress, hurried world many of us often feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. The body is clever though, when we are out of alignment it gives us a nudge. If we take notice and make adjustments, life can return to normal pretty quickly. But if we ignore the signals, what starts out as a little pain frequently turns into a big pain. 

Tight shoulders and a stiff neck may be telling you something on an emotional level. The mind/body connection is real. We know our minds carry our emotional stress, but our bodies do too. Our necks relate to how we express ourselves. Are we able to speak our personal truths? Neck problems can also relate to flexibility. Our necks allow us to turn and see things from a different perspective. Are we being stiff necked about something? Do we need to look at it from a different angle? Everything that is dear to us is held by our hands and carried to our hearts through our shoulders; however, our shoulders are also where we carry our burdens. Are we carrying too much responsibility? Can we set something down? 

Yoga helps us ease neck and shoulder pain on many levels. Physically, we stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones as we cultivate flexibility, stability and ease of movement. Emotionally, yoga is a potent stress reliever. It teaches us how to relax and connect to an inner sense of peace. Using yoga as a tool to relieve physical and emotional stress is one of the many ways we can heal ourselves. Taking the time to relieve the stress of neck and shoulder pain can help you feel revitalized in the whole body. Revitalized, I love this word, to be imbued with new life and vitality.  

Our story this month; Relieving stress revitalizes me!

The following are a couple of stretches to relieve neck and shoulder tension. 

Come to sitting mountain, easy pose, a stable, steady cross legged position, let your seat settle into the ground, let the spine be straight and strong and the head lift high to the sky. You can come into sitting mountain in a chair also, both feet resting on the ground, knees hip distance apart and over the ankles. 

Neck stretch 1; Inhale and extend the spine as you bring the hands behind the head and interlace the fingers, the elbows are out wide, exhale and lower the chin to the chest bringing the elbows toward one another, pause, let the gently weight of the hands and gravity release the neck, relax the shoulders. Inhale slowly and deeply as you lift the head and open the elbows wide, repeat the movement several times. (see image above)

Neck stretch 2; Interlace the hands behind the back and bring both hands to the left waist. Inhale and sit tall, exhale and lower the left ear to the left shoulder, relax the shoulders. Hold the pose for 3 deep breaths. Return the head to the center and turn to look left. Hold 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. 




Happiness and health, 
Kathe








Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Aparigraha

Aparigraha is the last of the five yamas of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates as non-greed, non-possessiveness, and non-attachment. It involves letting go of our attachments to possessions and people as well as letting go of our opinions. Our egos love to cling to our ideas and inflexible opinions, however, being inflexible keeps us stuck in a rut. It is better to change our minds - so to speak - and be open to another way of looking at things, to be open to another perspective. Everything in the world is always changing. Change is the only constant thing we can expect in life. Trees don't cling to their leaves but instead drop them in autumn so they can grow new buds in the springtime. Day turns into night in order for us to rest and rejuvenate for the next day, and if we cling to the day we would not get enough rest and would become exhausted. 

We go through changes every moment of every day. Our emotions change. Happiness, joy, and peace are important emotions to feel but so too are anger, sadness, and loss. To experience only the good stuff is to experience only half of what life has to offer. The school of life exists to allow us to experience and learn from every aspect, both the light and the dark, and to truly live we must not push away the things we don't want to feel, but allow them to happen, and know that this too shall pass. We can allow ourselves the freedom to rely less on material possessions or relationships to bring us happiness. We can allow ourselves the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be because letting go is not a loss, but an emancipation.    

Our story this month is, "Non-attachment offers me freedom." 

Our peak pose this month is Shoulder Stand, an inversion dubbed, "The Queen of Asanas" or "The Mother of Asanas." Because inversions can be tough - not to mention humbling, practicing them provides an outlet to learning non-attachment. With practice you learn not to focus on what the pose looks like, but on being in the moment. 

If you would like to give Shoulder Stand a try there are a few precautions you need to be aware of. If you are suffering from a neck or shoulder injury Shoulder Stand should be avoided. Those with glaucoma, high blood pressure or pregnant may want to substitute a restorative pose such as Leg's Up the Wall Pose. If you have not attempted Shoulder Stand before and are new to yoga it would be best to have a yoga instructor assist you. With that said, Shoulder Stand has tremendous benefits. It increases circulation in the lymphatic system, improves digestion, nourishes the thyroid, parathyroid and thymus glands, and last but not least helps to relieve emotional stress. 


Lie on your back and bend your knees placing the soles of your feet on the ground. Place your hands on your waist, palms and fingers supporting underneath your back. Bring your knees up toward your forehead; let the knees rest on your forehead. Straighten your legs up toward the ceiling and work your hands up your back toward the shoulder blades. To come out of the pose slowly soften your knees toward your forehead, and then slowly lower your feet back to the mat using your hands to support your back. Congratulations on completing the Mother of Asanas!

Love, Light, and Laughter, 
Melanie