March Madness

March Madness

Sisters

It’s been so long since I’ve written…but let me tell you – March has been a jam packed CRAZY month. So let me catch you up.

  • My baby sister got married.

It’s quite the thing to be the surprise officiant at your sister’s wedding. As a matter a fact, if you’re looking for ways to stun your entire extended family, that would be my list of suggestions. The good news is that my sister wasn’t really a “bridezilla.” (If anything, she needs to taught the value of a spreadsheet.) Every word of the ceremony was pre-approved by my sister. But I did manage to slip in my own personal thoughts (which got me some side-eye from sister dear).  However, at the end of the day, she was married. I now have two nieces to completely dote on. I also got to see my dad for the first time in about 10 years. All is well.

Mommy

Mommy

Sisters

Sisters

 

Wedding2

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

My new brother in law

My new brother in law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Remember that 5k goal I made at the beginning of the year? Yea…it happened.

I “ran” the St. Patrick’s Day 5k in Five Point. I have “ran” in quotations because I’m still run/walking and I’m totally ok with that. I have a whole lot of time to keep building. My next race is April 23 – the Heart and Sole Women’s 5 miler and I’m training for that. This 5k did give me a sincere confidence boost. I finished at a faster time than I ever trained at and more importantly – I felt good at the end. When I reflect on the experience, I’m reminded of all the mornings that I didn’t want to get up and run but I did anyway. I think of how freaking cold 30 something degree weather is especially at 5:30 a.m. I recall trying to stretch in my tiny office after a lunch run. I also remember thinking that I have no expectation but to finish and hoped to finish faster than I could walk it. I did just that. Now I have a safe base to begin to play with speed…and hills…those damn hills. I have no intentions of running a marathon, just trying to be healthier and I do better when I have concrete goals. Next 5k? Probably in September/October. The summer months will pose a new set of training obstacles for me to figure out…but at least I won’t have to remember to grab my gloves before heading out the door.

I own a medal now!

I own a medal now!

  • CreedX happened!

If you’re wondering what CreedX is…I had the same response when I was approached about participating. The Creed and Diversity Days at USC are a celebration of the Carolinian Creed (adopted 25 years ago) and the integrity and diversity of the campus and what that means to people. CreedX is the campus’ version of a TEDx event. Speakers are invited to come in and give a talk on different part of the creed. Knowing this was going to happen two weeks after my sister’s wedding and that wasn’t really going to give me time to prep something meaning – I cheated. I put together a panel of YFE students. I asked those who I knew either attended and graduated from USC. What they shared amazed me. I knew their stories or at least how they came to be in the YFE class. But it never fails…every time you give someone a chance to tell their story, another layer is shed. Another truth is shared. And I learned more about them probably than the audience did.

CreedX Crew

CreedX Crew

 

So if I could summarize March into “lessons learned” it’d probably come down to this.
Do something unexpected.

Set personal goals.

Listen. Everyone has a story.

 

 

 

 

New year, New goals

New year, New goals

Dara's birthday info!

Hi guys!

Happy New Year!

2016 marks my last year in my 30’s before ringing in a new decade of life. It can give you a moment to reflect…or for me a millisecond. I stopped making new year resolutions years ago and started making goals for each year. Some were personal, academic, professional, and a lot of them were yoga related. This year I made a fitness goal. I’m training for a road race. But here’s something you have to understand.

 

I am not a runner.

 

Typically when I run, something in my brain will ask me “Why?” about 30 seconds in. But I’ve decided this year that I was going to pick a goal completely outside of my comfort zone. So for as much as it may be a fitness goal, it’s also a personal growth experience.

So this newbie is taking it slow. I went to Fleet Feet and had the whole proper shoe picking experience (and learned about the importance of the proper sock). It was almost overwhelming. And I’ve spent my whole career in fitness…but not this arena. It’s also a great reminder of how a newbie walking into a yoga class must feel.

So yea…if you see me on the streets…honk (or don’t. Maybe just wave.)

Couple of announcements!

January is my birthday month and I want to celebrate with YOU! My birthday will fall on a Tuesday for my regular 7 pm beginner flow class (yes, it’s hot) and there’s no better time to come hang out with me! I don’t need any gifts. I’m actually donating my profits from the class to Growing Homes SE – the agency I got my foster license through. So the best gift you can give me is to come to class…and bring a friend!

And the Sunday 5pm Yoga Hour at City Yoga comes back as of NOW!!

Dara's birthday info!

Dara’s birthday info!

Life Upside Down

Life Upside Down

Sometimes life turns things upside down.

Sometimes life turns things upside down.

Sometimes life turns things upside down.

Well, it’s been a while since I sat down to write. I think all of us in South Carolina knew what happened at the beginning of October, when I normally would have posted. The “1000 year flood” is not a distant memory in our minds. Many of us have moved and so many people still cannot. I get a little nervous now hearing about rain in the weather forecast and when I watch the news I have a whole new sense of empathy for natural disaster stories.

I’m still trying to figure out what I learned from the whole flood experience…or if I’m supposed to learn anything at all. Sometimes shit just happens and it doesn’t have a bigger purpose. Is that what this flood was? That remains to be seen.  And trust me, I’m watching.

 

 

 

Many of you have asked about my “new” job. If you measure newness by how clean someone’s desk is it’s no longer spotless but is covered in piles – you know the ones. Guess the job is not so new anymore.

I can tell you that because of said job, my fatigue level is out of control. As most of you know, sitting at a computer kills your energy and I’m out of practice….and the research project isn’t in full swing yet! In an attempt to keep my sanity and be well rested (so that I don’t burn out on you), I’ll be giving up a class at each location that I teach.

 

Classes I’m removing from my schedule:

My desk "organization"

My desk “organization

Friday 6 am @ the Y as of Dec. 1

Friday 6 pm @ City Yoga as of Dec. 1

Saturday 10 am @ Yoga Masala as of Jan. 1

 

All other classes will remain intact. I’ll be there or be square….will you?

 

On the upside, there are things in the pot brewing that I’m excited about. It’d be premature to share them at this moment but know at least this part…the next Yoga and Wine will happen in January for my birthday (my last year in my 30s!!). I certainly hope you’ll help me celebrate.

 

See you soon,

Dara

September Changes

September Changes

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520008.TIF

We’ve made it to another school year, through another summer and back to the land of routine. This also means that I get to change my routine a bit along with the rest of you.

Due to some personal needs, I’ve been searching for a full time office job for the past several months. Today, I can tell you I’ve accepted a position on an exercise and cancer grant with the College of Nursing at USC. I’m very excited about the project…and the stability it will give my life for the next couple years.

What does this mean for you?

I’m still going to teach. I like my high heels but sharing the practice is what renews my soul. But my teaching schedule will be limited to my classes outside normal business hours and weekends…and special programs like retreats!

So here’s what I will be teaching for sure:

Sundays:

11 am Yoga Masala

6 pm City Yoga*** (new time!)

 

Mondays:

6 am YMCA

5:45 pm Masala on Main

 

Tuesdays:

6:30 am Masala on Main

7 pm Yoga Masala

 

Wednesdays:

6:30 am Yoga Masala

6:15 pm YFE at Yoga Masala

 

Thursdays:

6 am YMCA

6 pm City Yoga

 

Fridays:

6 am YMCA

6 pm City Yoga***(Vinyasa Flow – new format!!)

 

Saturdays:

10 am Yoga Masala

 

Alright…no pouting. This is good for me!

So here are the special programs coming!

Asana Junkies is being moved this month due to teacher training…so mark your calendar for Sept. 19!

AND if you missed the yoga and wine retreat…I’m teaming up with Masala on Main and Grapes & Gallery for a Yoga and Wine Pairing event on Oct. 3. Space will be limited. Stay tuned for more details to come!

 

You know how to find me – come see me!

 

“Change brings opportunity.”  – Nido Qubein

 

(And did I mention I did an event for the Ray Tanner Foundation?)

Ray Tanner

Yoga – Reaching Out

Yoga – Reaching Out

YRO too big

Throughout the years that I’ve not only been practicing but teaching, I can’t begin to describe to you the people I’ve met or the opportunities that I’ve had – all in the name of yoga.

I’ve traveled up and down the east coast and midwest training other teachers. I’ve gone to Yogaville to receive special training to better teach people living with cancer. I’ve presented at conferences and conducted lunch and learn sessions for businesses. I’ve taught inner city youth. Met my foster son and other amazing children growing up in the system.  I’ve taught athletes, older adults, and those living with physical disabilities. People have let me into their lives to celebrate and mourn and I in return have let you into mine.

I’ll never forget any of it.

But now it’s your turn.

On Oct 11, South Carolina becomes a site to a massive Yoga Reaches Out Yogathon. Why and what? Let me tell you.

YRO FB

 

It first begins with two small local non-profits who work with disadvantaged youth. The same kids I spent nearly 5 years of my life working with and trying to be a small seed that reminds them there’s “a way out.” Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter provides emergency housing services to children in foster care. I know the Director personally and she takes her job very seriously. She loves these kids and goes up to bat for them in ways I wish that I could. Also, I would have loved to have seen my foster son get into their teen program.

The second organization is Achieve Columbia. Now…I know less about this organization. But I do know that it’s the little engine that could…and they could do more great work with a little boost. (You can probably say that about many not-for-profits.)

So what can you do? You join the yogathon. Why? Because it gives you the opportunity to use your mat in service of others.

 

How many times do you get to do that?

 

Check out the site. Join or create a team. Or give a flat donation. Or volunteer. BUT the teachers that are teaching at this thing…you don’t want to miss. Fantastic local teachers and the fabulous Rolf Gates. (If you don’t know Rolf, ask me about his book in class. It was one of those life changers and savers.) Plus music, lunch, vendors, and me. Did I mention I’ll be there? I’m not teaching. I’m trading in my voice for my hands that weekend and doing some of the physical work…literally.

The best part about this is…it isn’t about what studio or which teacher or what style of yoga is better. It’s about getting on your mat. ALL of us getting on our mats. Yogis uniting – to give back to OUR local community and children.

So now what…sign up! http://www.yogareachesout.org/

YRO Banner

 

PS – If you missed the Yoga and Wine Retreat, well…I may have the next best thing in works coming in October. Stay tuned!

 

 

Adult is a verb

Adult is a verb

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Many people put their yoga teachers on a pedestal.

That’s crazy.

I can tell you that I’m not deserving of any pedestal nor do I ever want to be placed on one unless there’s a trophy being awarded. I am no better than anyone. In many ways I fail at life. I speak when I should keep my mouth shut. I don’t always wait to send an angry email. And I’m definitely not always the best communicator when it comes to my feelings.

These are all things I’m working on too. This is why I practice.

I very recently went through a rough patch.  You may have heard my voice break as I’d randomly would tear up as I was teaching. My heart was broken over my lack of ability to communicate and deal with a family issue that was standing in the way of my growth. In the process, I hurt someone very important to me. It took awhile but I eventually summoned the courage to dive directly into my fears.

This could only happen because I took the time to dive into my practice.

I took time to be quiet, listen, meditate, talk with those I trust…which eventually allowed to trust myself…again.

It all takes work.  I wish I have a different experience to share with you. The older I get the more I understand “adult” to be a verb and not really a noun.

Your practice is a magnificent way to “adult.” Not only will it guide you through a wide range of emotions and physical sensations. It will help when you’re injured – and not just physically. It will teach you that like life, your practice will be and look different for different times/stages/phases.

I’m so grateful for the softer parts of my practice – meditation, journaling, reading. They sustain me in ways that Down Dog cannot.

There’s yoga for the body. And then there’s yoga for the heart – true “adult-ing.”

 

As promised! Here are pics from the retreat! I’m already looking into next years dates!

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Growing Pains

Growing Pains

Texas practice cronies - Kim, Christina, Me and Laura

What a month it has been….highs and lows, laughter and tears. I never fail to be amazed at how much more there is to learn, both professionally and personally. But growth, as uncomfortable as it can be, is what I’m about. Everyone grows at their own rate and on their own path. Do you what you. And do it as well as you can. If you screw up, try again. That’s the practice.

The month started with a fantastic trip to Texas for an advanced intensive with Christina Sell. Let me tell ya…I’ve been doing advanced intensives for 8 years but this was the first year I felt strong enough to attempt everything. I learned so much great stuff that will keep me busy for a very long time. I love it. And I so enjoyed sharing some of what I learned in this past month’s Asana Junkies practice. The name of the game – Practice. Practice. Practice.

Texas practice cronies - Kim, Christina, Me and Laura

Texas practice cronies – Kim, Christina, Me and Laura

 

On my return, so many great things happened! YFE (the adaptive yoga class) celebrated it’s two year anniversary. As you can tell, we like to eat. Yoga then food. It’s a good combination.

Some of the gang in our post practice celebration!

Some of the gang in our post practice celebration!

 

AND the new Masala on Main opened! Have you checked it out yet? (I bought a wedding gift there this past weekend.) Here’s when I’m teaching:

Mondays 8 am and 5:45 pm

Tuesday 6:30 am ($5 class)

Wednesdays 12:10 (NEW 40 minute class to fit your lunch break perfectly!)

Thursday 10 am – very gentle movement and meditation class. Perfect for anyone.

Masala on Main

Masala on Main

 

Next month…I’ll have pictures from the Yoga and Wine Retreat!

 

See you on the mat!

Dara

One, Two & Three

One, Two & Three

Largest YFE class

Ok, many of you have been asking me about my new classes at Masala on Main…keep reading!

Largest YFE class

 

One, the above picture is a first…the largest YFE (Yoga For Everyone), aka adaptive yoga, class we’ve seen. A total of 16 students plus 12 volunteers who were willing to be multiple places at once. I can’t begin to put into words how blown away I am by the response to this class. Clearly such a need in our community. The next volunteer training will be June 7 – let me know if you want in!

 

Two, there’s ONE room left for the Yoga and Wine Retreat! Will it be yours alone? Will you share it?

The Welcome gift

The Welcome gift

 

And third…you’ve waited for it and here it is. My new additional classes at Masala on Main!

Mondays: 8 am & 5:45 pm

Tuesdays: 6:30 am

Thursdays: 10 am

These classes will begin when I get back from vacation….which by the way is this coming week. Please enjoy all your guest teachers this week! I’ll see you after I’ve spent an obscene amount of hours on a yoga mat with my dear friends and one of my favorite teachers, Christina Sell.

 

Seva

Seva

NC Adaptive Yoga Trng

The sanskrit word seva means “service” and is considered an important part of a yoga practice and lifestyle. There a many ways to be of service and you have to find a means that works for and feels authentic to you. One way that I invite you to be of service is through Yoga Reaches Out. To summarize YRO is a non-profit that puts on yogathons around the country. The first one in Columbia will be on Oct. 11. The proceeds benefit local children’s charities. One of the charities is Pametto Place  – a local temporary children’s shelter. Most of you know my personal experience with the foster care system so this becomes a project that’s near and dear to me. Trust me you’ll be hearing a whole lot more about it. I hope you’ll participate in the yogathon. Save the Date – Oct. 11!   Most of you have heard the story of me teaching an adaptive yoga workshop in North Carolina. It was an a wonderful experience. One that I’m incredibly grateful for. I won’t repeat the whole story but enjoy the picture of the group. It was a wonderful reminder of what you can learn in being of service.

NC Adaptive Yoga Trng

NC Adaptive Yoga Trng

Our local adaptive class celebrates our second anniversary in May! And I hope to be able to soon announce some of the other projects that I’ve got cooking. If you’re interested in volunteering for our local adaptive class – class is on Wednesdays at 6:15 pm at Yoga Masala. The next volunteer training looks like it will be in early June (more details to come next month). I can add you to the list at any point so just let me know!   Lastly, my summer offering to you!  There’s still limited space in the Yoga and Wine Retreat. Sign up now! Contact me directly about payment plans!

The Welcome gift

The Welcome gift

Previous retreat pics

Previous retreat pics

Trying Something New

Trying Something New

KB

So most of you have heard me talk about this fitness challenge I’ve been doing at KORE Wellness. Never being one to back down from a challenge, I decided to try it. Now let me step and say I know that I don’t need to lose a bunch of weight. However, the last few months had worn me down and though I had worked really hard to get my emotional self back in check, I needed a kick in the butt to get myself physically in check.

KB

 

 

The toughest part of the challenge for me wasn’t even the workouts (though they could be brutal) it was the cooking. It was like doing a Bikram challenge in my kitchen. Why? Because I don’t cook. . And when you teach 25 classes a week, you don’t have time to cook. But then there’s the whole not backing down from a challenge thing…so I dove in and amended the meal plans so they’d work with my schedule…..and I began cooking, like more than boiling water (which I had perfected). I tried all sorts of new foods. I played with recipes and was even gifted some real cutting knives and other supplies for my birthday. I’ve used my Vitamix, oven and pots more in the past 3 weeks than in the 11 years I’ve lived in my house.

Here’s what I was reminded of: Don’t be afraid to try something new. To eat something new To learn something new.

Stagnation is my all time biggest fear. If I don’t keep learning and growing, I don’t know what will happen to me. I actually will probably never go back to completely surviving off of cereal and pasta. Not with my new skills. That’s the thing about acquired knowledge and experience, no one can take it from you.

 

Serious Reminder: Retreat registration is plugging along! Last day for early registration and $50 is Feb. 15! Contact me directly about payment plans! Click here for more info!

The Welcome gift

The Welcome gift

 

PS – I’ll be co-teaching a workshop in Charlotte in March on How to Teach Adaptive Yoga. More details to come but if you know anyone who may be interested, let me know!

 

 

2015: You asked for a retreat…

2015: You asked for a retreat…

The 2012 Retreat Gang - Dinner on the Porch

…and you’re getting a retreat! And many more things – so be sure to read all the way to the end!

 

First, let me say two things:

1) I know many of you asked for a getaway to Asheville. I looked into it. At the moment, it’d be a bit expensive. And one my goals is to always keep regional retreats affordable.

2) Everyone’s definition of a yoga retreat is different and they’re all marvelous. My idea is to provide you with a “yoga vacation” with plenty  time for you to explore, play, practice, nap, read, eat, and just be at your leisure.

With that said, here’s the official retreat announcement!

 

Yoga and Wine Retreat 2015

Join Dara for a fun and restful long weekend getaway in her home state of Georgia. Dahlonega Spa Resort is located on 72 acres near the historic gold-rush town of Dahlonega, Georgia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just over an hour and a half north of Atlanta. During this 4 day, 3 night retreat, Dara will lead 5 all levels yoga classes that will not only challenge but encourage you.  You can go hiking, tour the vineyards, or feel free to just curl up on the porch with a book. You will deepen your practice, breathe the fresh mountain air, eat elegant cuisine and leave feeling rejuvenated.

The Welcome gift

The Welcome Gift

Click HERE to register!

The 2012 Retreat Gang - Dinner on the Porch

The 2012 Retreat Gang – Dinner on the Porch

When: Thursday, June 25, 2015 @ 5:00 pm – Sunday, June 28, 2015 @ 11:00 am

Where: Dahlonega Spa Resort, Dahlonega, GA

Cost: $686 double occupancy/$920 single occupancy (Main Inn or Cottage Rooms)

$731 double occupancy/$1,011 single occupancy (Cabin)

(All rooms have a private bath and no tv or phone to ensure your absolute relaxation. Wifi is available.)

Price includes – accommodations, all meals, use of 1400 sq. foot yoga hall and props, use of Jacuzzi and nature trails, all applicable taxes and gratuity. Spa services and cocktails are priced separately.

Yoga Room

Yoga Room

Click HERE to register!

Registration deadline: May 15, 2015.  Register by Feb 15, 2015 and get $50 off your registration.

(contact me directly for payment plan options by using the Contact tab.)

You never have to leave the resort. Or you can go tasting at the vineyards. You can hang out in the large beautiful Jacuzzi. You can go hiking.  Pan for gold (history nerd check – the gold on the GA state capitol dome is from Dahlonega – so it’s a thing).

PS – ALL pictures are on my public Facebook page and are from previous retreats I’ve hosted at this resort. I have more pics but I won’t bore you 🙂

 

Other stuff for 2015:

Classes, classes, and more classes!

Asana Junkies is coming back to City Yoga! The class will meet the last Saturday of every month (except November & December) and is a two hour practice for those wanting to take their asana to the next level. It is an adapted program of one that I do with one of my mentors, Christina Sell. We welcome all though this is NOT a good choice for beginners. If you’re willing to try, play, support, and discuss – this is a great place to be. First practice is Jan. 31 at 10:30 am! (I do have a separate email list for this class. Let me know if you want on. Is 2015 the year you expand  your asana practice?)

Asana Junkies starts again Jan. 31!

Asana Junkies starts again Jan. 31!

 

I’m adding TWO classes to Yoga Masala beginning in mid- January. Tuesday/Thursday at 4 pm. 60 minutes. Get your asana “fix!”  I’ll also be teaching a FREE Beginner’s workshop on Jan. 31 from 2-4 pm!

And, I’m also adding a class at the Y – Yoga Core on Fridays at 12:10 pm!

Finally, I’m partnering with Mentor to offer an additional adaptive class to run for a 4 month trial for people specifically living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I’m very much looking forward this. I’m taking small steps to begin to expand Yoga For Everyone to more people. If you know anyone who wants to make a large donation to the cause – hook me up.

 

Well, you can see how busy I’ll be and there are plans to reveal more in 2015. I’m doing all this to be of better service. I’ve heard you.

 

PPS – My 38th birthday is Jan. 26. Just in case you like collecting random facts.

 

Happy New Year everyone!

 

More Alike than Not

You’ve probably heard me tell many stories about my mom…and maybe a few about my dad. To say my dad and I have a strained relationship is putting it mildly. When I was younger, I was just angry about it and blamed him. How could you miss that birthday party and dance recital? Why are you such a bully about me doing well in school? Why can’t I do what my friends get to do? Why aren’t you more like other dads?

Most of that is normal kid and teenage angst. But there are distinct things that make my dad my dad, most of which has to do with the way he was raised. And after my experience this summer, I realize more than ever parents are winging it. I knew it intellectually before but now I’ve had the experience. It becomes a interesting crossroad of not wanting to be your parents and ending up being your parents. Of wanting better for your child and trying really hard not to let your stuff interfere with their growth. It is thus far the hardest part of the human experience I’ve ever been a part of.

I’ve tried very hard to not be my dad. To be more about a person than their accomplishments. To be freely happy for people. To be more affectionate. To actually make a living doing something that I enjoy. But the more work I put into this, the more I realize I’m more like him than not. This may be a function of age. I see him through adult eyes now and see him as a person who did better than his parents but still probably defaulted to what they taught him. It’s all we can do.

This realization doesn’t undo decades of arguing. But it’s a start to making peace. And a reminder that my past does influence me but I get to choose what I do with it….and keep doing my own thing.

 

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

If you’ll be in town, I’m teaching a “Before” class.

Before grocery shopping. Before you start cooking. Before your company arrives. Before you leave town. Come practice!

8 am, Wed. Nov 26, Yoga Masala, $5 only!

 

 

 

 

Better Mistakes

Better Mistakes

mistakes

mistakes

It never fails.

Every month I sit on front of the blank computer screen and think about what to write. What to share. Do I have anything to say. Blah blah blah.

Last week it became very evident that I did. If you’ve been in class with me with week, you’ve heard me talk about boundaries. There are all types – personal & professional. And they do what boundaries do – keep things in or keep things out. They shape how we see the world. Help uphold our beliefs. And are what we turn back to in order to feel safe.

But every now and again they need to be re-examined.

And boy, do I have some changes to make in my life.

I’d been taught to see the good in people. It doesn’t always work that way with me. But I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt (unless you’re dating one of my friends…that gets you way more scrutiny) and factor in your potential along with other characteristics. I still do that. But I learned last week that that fluid boundary can get you into a lot of trouble. And as a result the past week has been a whirlwind and I’ve been working on trying to keep my head above water. I’ve forgotten simple things and feel a bit disconnected as a result.

To summarize: My former foster son was found. Clearly not happy to be caught, he made up a story that threw me under the bus and left me dealing with DSS.

He’ll get caught in his own lie as he has in the past. However, it does make me question everything he’s ever told me. It makes me not regret getting my foster licence but wishing I had listened more closely to those who tried to warn me. It also makes me look at all the social workers I’ve come in contact with since, who have begged me not to close my home because of one child, and wonder when do they believe the kid?

Needless to say, boundaries need to be re-examined and that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks. I’m sure I’ll make some more mistakes…and I’ll learn from those too. Hopefully, they will be better mistakes.

Until the re-examination begins again…

Light through the cracks

Light through the cracks

LC

LC

 

 

I shared a lot without saying much to you last month. I told you about my foster son running away. To date, we still don’t know where he is. Actually, I take that back, I have a pretty good idea but it’s been so long now that I’m not sure I trust my instincts on this anymore.

When it first happened, I threw myself into my Bikram practice. Not because I find 105 degrees therapeutic but because when everyone else is wiping sweat from their eyes, no one can tell you’re wiping tears. I ate a massive amount of junk food. Socially isolated myself a bit (thankfully I have friends who wouldn’t allow me to be alone). I sunk in and thankfully was able to scoop myself out before I was too deep.

I’ve been there before with depression. I know how low I can go and how much apathy and dysfunction can take over my life. Thankfully, I’ve never needed medication but I can completely understand the need. But I’m lucky. I have learned what it takes to pull *me* out – sunshine, exercise, healthy food, and good people around me. Guess, I could consider myself lucky this happened in the summer when the sun is the brightest.

And I’ve never been so appreciative of my practice. I actually couldn’t sit and meditate for a long while – I was so afraid of the emotions that might come up. Of what might be reflected back to me. Of the truth that I’d have to face. However, I remember. I remember what I learned when I sit. When I reflect. I remember how I feel when I open up and talk to people I trust (I did a lot of that). When I reclaim my life.

I tell you all this to remind you that I’m very much a human being and just like you. I’m not always happy to go to work. I don’t always get along with everyone. Creme-filled cookies and I are best friends. And my long time yoga practice doesn’t magically make any of this disappear or make the hard times better. It does give me insight into myself and how I relate to the world (though I wish it did stop tears sometimes).

Here’s the conclusions I’ve drawn on this latest heartache thus far:

1)      As much as I disagree, this was my foster son’s decision to make and I have to respect that at least. He picked a hard path. But he picked it.

2)      At some level, I helped create an environment that made it easy for him to crawl out the window. I may never get to know how I did that. It’s so easy to just blame him but I have to accept my role too.

3)      As eye-opening and heartbreaking this whole experience has been, I’m not surrendering my foster license. I have switched it from full time placement to emergency/respite care only. This will hopefully not overwhelm my emotions again. And secondly, it keeps my personal options opened. If I’ve learned anything in life it’s that the opposite of dark is light and light will penetrate the tiniest of cracks. Well, a crack has opened and I’m chipping away at it. I know there’s beauty on the other side.

 

On a whole other note, September is national yoga month and I’m almost halfway through my 100 Healthy Days challenge. So here are some of my yoga pics/selfies from the past few weeks. Join me or start your own challenge. I’m on Instagram @yogadara

 

yoga selfie 1 yoga selfie 2 yoga selfie 3

 

 

PS – the adaptive class is in need of volunteers! If you or someone else is interested in volunteering, the next training is Sunday, Sept. 14 at 1:30 pm. Contact me details!

When One Door Closes

When One Door Closes

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This is may be one of the hardest posts I’ve written thus far. I thought about writing right after the incident but emotions were way to fresh and as most of my close friends and family can tell you – I was a complete mess.

On July 9, my foster son climbed out of his bedroom window and ran away. It was around 1 pm. Broad daylight. I was watching tv.

There are many things I’d like to ask him. Most of which will be moot if he does show up again.

If I could say anything to him now it’d be this: I still consider you family.

If you ask me about him, know that I might sound more angry than hurt…but it’s only a bandaid so I can function.

 

On a very different note…trying to get back into my single & professional life, I’ve started one of those 100 day social media challenges. 100 Healthy Days! I’m excited about it! And even though I’m a public health person to the core, I find it sometimes hard to do one healthy thing a day (some days should just be dedicated to your pajamas and ice cream). Wanna join me? I’m posting daily on Instagram – follow me @yogadara. Here are some of the pics thus far 🙂

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Also, the adaptive class is in need of more volunteers….Next volunteer training is Sunday, Aug. 14 from 1:30-3:30 pm. Email me directly for more information – yogadara@aol.com

Some YFE Class & Volunteers

Some YFE Class & Volunteers

 

August Events:

NEW CLASS at the Y – Mondays at 6 am! Start your week off right!

Saturday, Aug. 30 (Labor Day Weekend) – Asana Junkies at City Yoga at 10:30 am

 

Tough Choices

Tough Choices

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I don’t know where I’d be without my writing. I have these blogs I share with you and then there’s the other stuff that I write that someone can publish when I’m long gone.

Many of you have heard me say that I used to write all the time when I was a teenager, mainly short stories. Some I shared. Some I didn’t. Most of my writing was a way for me to get what was in my head out. Then academia took over and writing became a chore. I found my love for writing and processing through writing again with the help of my writing coach, Cassie Premo Steele.

 

 

Cassie and i are leading a mini-retreat on June 21!

Cassie and I are leading a mini-retreat on June 21!

 

These past few weeks have been full of tough choices…and alot of writing. My sweet kitten who has been my companion for 11 years was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal cancer. As she was being diagnosed, I had a hard time trying to reconcile how I was going to pay to treat a sick animal and feed a teenage  boy at the same time. Somehow I was going to make it work. I wasn’t ready to give up my pet. I rescued her with the intention of not only having a cute fuzzy thing to love, but to learn how to share my space.

Let’s be honest, when you live alone for as long as I have, sharing space is not something that comes naturally. (Ironically though, I shared a room with my little sister for most of my life. But then you get your own space… and well, it’s not something you give up willingly.)

I had never had a pet before. Mom’s thing was she already had 3 kids; she didn’t need something else to take care of. So I got this kitten and knew NOTHING. I read some sort of Idiot’s Guide to Cat Care book and bought all this stuff. Little did I know that all I had to do was pay attention and my dear sweet fuzz ball would teach me all I need to know about her.  I learned how to share my bed with a snoring animal, my lap, and my hair ties. I learned I had emotions I never dreamed of when I heard her cry. And I’ve learned that I’m not ready for her to die.

However, her decline has been quick and this week I’ll say goodbye to her and hello to a teenager. It’s poetic when you think about it. The spirit who taught me about creating space in order to share, is making space so that I can share with another. She’s taught me everything she was put into my life to teach me and her job is done. And I’ll miss her horribly.

My sweet Shanti

My sweet Shanti

 

My writing has gotten me through these past few weeks. And I’m particularly happy that Cassie taught me  that you never have to share what you write. My heart’s deepest desires are only communicated with my mind via the pen serving as mediator. I hope that you’ll join us and share in a bit of what I love. I can’t think of any other tool that is a more perfect compliment to my practice to help me process the loss of my first pet.

P.S. – Cassie won’t make you share what you write either.

 

What: Shine in Body and Mind: A mini retreat

When: Saturday, June 21

Where: City Yoga 

Time: 12-6 pm

Who’s it for: Anyone. The afternoon will include all levels yoga, writing, meditation and reflection

Cost: $50

Bring a journal and a snack.

To register click here.

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The song my kitten was named after. I sing it to her all the time.

 

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, June 7 – Teaching at the Y at 9:30 am

Tuesday, June 10 – Guest teaching the 9 am Gentle class at City Yoga

Saturday, June 21 – Guest teaching the 8:30 am Basics at City Yoga AND the mini retreat!

Saturday, June 28 – Guest teaching the 8:30 am Basics at City Yoga AND Asana Junkies at 10:30 am

With a stroke of a pen

With a stroke of a pen

The Maha Kali that protects my house from atop the tv armoire

With a stroke of a pen, I’ll become a foster parent. Or just a parent. Or  more accurately in this case a big sister…again.

If you’ve been hanging with me the past few weeks, you’d know I’m in the middle of an expedited foster license process. I’m cramming about 4-6 months worth of work into approximately 3 weeks which is literally a full time job. I thought a Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge was a test of my mettle. It was just the warm up.

I thankfully have a small group of friends that have already done this. All of which are now adoptive or pre-adoptive parents and their children are beautiful. There’s a serious lack of good, effective, caring people willing to foster. It’s a hell of a process for those of us who decide to go through with it. With the help of those who have gone before me, I’m able to vent appropriately and get the support that I need. These past few weeks would have been impossible without my entire support system. All of you. You know who you are.

The licensing specialist I’m working with is the bomb. If you ever decide to take this leap and you’re local in SC, I’ll happily give you her name. It is absolutely fantastic to work with someone who is professional, doula-esque with her support and education, as well as a strong advocate for a parent(s) she deems worthy. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Everything had gone so smoothly up until this Thursday afternoon. We hit our first, and hopefully, only snafu. I know I can’t have any expectations when it comes to any system. I’ve only been dealing with this system for 5 months and my baby bro (aka soon-to-be foster son) has been dealing a whole lot longer. I understand his anger and frustration on a whole new level and my exposure has been much shorter. Sometimes logic and state regulations don’t match up. Especially when it comes to the emotional well-being of a child.

I’ve always wanted to be a mom from since I was a little girl. The older (and very single) I get, the easier it is to look into alternative options like this.  On my last visit with my baby bro I told him about Kali – the dark, fierce mother. She’s often misunderstand but her loyalty should never be questioned and her protection is bar none.  I’ve always resonated with Kali. I’m not just getting a foster parent license but a therapeutic treatment parent license. I’ll have more say in and be able to better advocate for any child in my care. (But there I am talking in the future. My licensing specialist keeps encouraging me to maintain my license and continue even after baby bro has left my home. My response is typically “Let me start with a young person I already know and have a relationship with first.”)

The Maha Kali that protects my house from atop the tv armoire

The Maha Kali that protects my house from atop the tv armoire

I’m not naive enough to think that it’ll all be roses. Not only is sharing your personal space tough, especially when you live alone, but every time a child has a disruption in placement, it’s like a trauma happens all over again. Like I’ve learned in training, they’ll bring not only what emotionally happened in their biological home but in every foster placement before you. Patience is key. So is love. And a little Kali-like ferocity directed toward the system when necessary will be needed too.

If you ever feel the need to ask why I would do all this for a 17 year old who’s about to age out of the system, my first response will be to introduce you to my baby bro. Second, I’d introduce you to my mom. She taught me all about opening your heart and was the perfect model of how to form a relationship with a child. Third, I’d tell you to watch this.

 

With a stroke of a pen, lives can change.

 

Upcoming Events:

Asana Junkies at City Yoga – May 31  $10

Guest Teaching – @ City Yoga 5/17 at 8:30 am, @YMCA 5/19 & 5/26 at 5:45 pm

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Shine in Body and Mind Mini- Retreat – June 21 at City Yoga  $50

Spend an afternoon with me and my writing coach, Cassie Premo Steele for some creative recoup time. You won’t want to miss this! Register by clicking here.

In like a lion, and out like a lamb

March really did come in like a lion like the old saying says. But also really did leave like a lamb. Here we are now at the beginning of April. A whole new month. And if you were alive during the middle ages, it’d be the beginning of a new year. Either way you cut it, it’s  a chance to start new. It’s also an opportunity to see me in my warm weather uniform, jeans and a tank top.

As I sat down to contemplate about what to write to about I concluded I needed to write about what’s been on my mind most this past month. Most of you know I have a teenager that I hang with. (Actually, he may  be reading this right now.) In many ways he’s the kid (he hates that term) and/or little brother I never had. And he probably has NO idea what I’ve done for the past month to make sure he’s ok – the internet research, the phone calls, the favors I’ve called for, etc. It doesn’t really matter. At the end of a visit, I get a hug and a smile and it makes it all the maternal alarm ringing in my head and graying of my hair worth it.

I know time passes more quickly as you get older. Which is something I can’t explain to a 17 year old – that his 18th birthday REALLY is around the corner and the this whole DSS thing will go away very soon. I also know there are lessons that I can’t teach him – that he has to figure out on his own. Like even though you’re considered a legal adult, there’s still so much growing up to do. Ghosts from your past will haunt  you until you face them head on. That for all the time you may spend in therapy, like I did in my twenties, it takes TIME to digest it all. And that you’ll make the same mistakes and find yourself in the same situations again and again until you realize the common denominator in all these recurring events is YOU – and that’s some real shit when it hits you.

And so many more.

But lions turn into the lambs, don’t they? Yes. Some do. Eventually. Just like this winter had to end at some point.

I can look back at all the lion episodes of my life, some longer and more ferocious than others, and say I don’t know what kept me sane. But actually I do. I found yoga at age 17. I practiced off and on and first, absorbing as much as I could while going to college at the same time and dealing with professors, my first love, working, my first car wreck, and alot of underage drinking, etc. But even then I would arrange my class and work schedule around the yoga classes at the gym. They kept me sane. I knew I had to keep going back in order to be able to function. I was the youngest person in the room and I didn’t care. I’d plop my mat down in the front row and let myself just to be for an hour. To breathe. To focus. To let answers come  in a more open state of mind when I wasn’t actually worrying.

Learning to pay attention is the best thing my practice has taught me and keeps teaching me. Whether I’m focusing on my breath or my big toe. Now…some days I do it better than others. But the opportunity to pay attention, to start again, is always there.

The question is what will you pay attention to? The lion? Or the inevitable lamb?

Upcoming Events:

If you enjoy my writing and my teaching, join me in a mini-retreat of yoga and writing with my writing teacher Cassie Premo Steele on June 21 at City Yoga. 12 – 6 pm $50. Registration details coming soon!

Beginning in May – Thursdays at 6 pm at City Yoga changes to a Yoga Hour! Get back to the sunshine earlier!

Saturday, April 5 – Teaching at the Downtown Y at 9:30 am

Saturday, April 12 – Guest teaching at City Yoga at 10 am

Saturday, April 19 – Guest teaching at Yoga Masala at 9 am

Saturday, April 26 – Asana Junkies at City Yoga at 10:30 am

 

 

30 days I never want to repeat

30 days I never want to repeat

What I primarily ate for 30 days

So as I write this, I’m on the last day of a 30 day cleanse. If you missed last month’s blog, allow me to recap (with some detail).

I went to the doctor in November and my weight was 148 lbs. Now that’s not big, but that’s the biggest I’ve ever been and in 2 more pounds my BMI (Body Mass Index) would consider me to be overweight. As a public health person, I’m well aware the BMI is NOT a direct measure of body fat but a measure of disease risk. But who the hell likes to be told they’re overweight?

But I continued the merriment of the holidays – wine, desserts, more wine, and more desserts. I slowed down a bit come January because I knew I had TEDx coming up and the dress I ordered…well, it wasn’t going to hide 2 months of gluttony. Then crazy mega stress hit and I decided that it was an opportune time (post late January birthday – because I had arranged a wine and paint party) to do an intense cleanse. Not only for my health but for my sanity.

So for 30 days – no alcohol, no added sugar, no television besides the news and the Olympics, and no popular music except what I play in class. I ate mainly vegan – fruits, veges, brown rice and quinoa. (I say mainly because I still like honey in my smoothies.) And If I hit a need for calories, like in between classes or events, I’d take a couple large scoops of natural peanut butter.

 

What I primarily ate for 30 days

What I primarily ate for 30 days

On top of all this (because I never do things easily), I participated in a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. 30 classes in 30 days in a 105 degree room with about 40% humidity. This challenge began Feb. 3 so I will complete class 30 on day 29, Monday, Mar. 3.

The first 14 days of this endeavor were actually not that bad. I packed my own food for a Superbowl party. I set out what days I was going to do laundry – because you do a lot during a Bikram challenge. I went to the grocery store about once every 8 days to re-stock fresh foods. And my crockpot full of vegetables and brown rice seemed to be going all the time.

Then the shit hit the fan.

On Valentine’s Day I found out that Carolina Children’s Home was shutting down. Not only was I losing my job there as a yoga teacher and dozens of other people losing theirs, but all the kids that I had become so fond of would have to be placed somewhere else. I can’t say my 45 minutes a week made big strides with some of these kids but as I walked out the door for the last time this past week, I was surprised at some of the kids who decided to hug me, or give me a fist bump, or just went of their way to say good-bye. You never know when you leave an impression on someone and I never stopped seeing potential in these kids. In the meanwhile, I’ll figure out how to make up the gap in income – somehow.

Forty-eight hours later, my close friends can tell you of the mega stress that came down. I was in a panic. I really believed someone I cared a lot about was in danger. I’ve never been happier to know the many mental health people that I know to give me advice and counsel.  I had one friend tell me, at the height of it all, “You’ve had a rough day. Just pour a glass of wine. “  Hell no. I wasn’t about to throw away the personal work that I had done thus far. Instead, I made a cup of tea.

The stress continued for the remainder of the month and is now finally easing off. I’m now confident my loved one is out of danger and will continue doing well. I’m still getting into the hot room. And I’m still eating my brown rice.

Though, I wouldn’t want to live these 30 days again. But no one really does want to relive stressful times. I remember as a teenager my dad used to tell me that everything was a life lesson. That was something I didn’t want to hear at age 16. Twenty plus years later, I believe him. However, some lessons can only be recognized in hindsight. I’m still filtering through the lessons of these 30 days. Some have to do with trust and communication. Others have to do with self-discipline, goal-setting and motivation. Still others have to do with growing one’s confidence.

Oh yes, and if you’ve seen me – I have lost some weight – a total of 15 lbs from the beginning of January. I’m back down to my grad school weight and my energy level has never been higher. I’ll continue some of my new habits but not nearly to the extreme that I took them. (Like I’d like to have some chips n’ dip and a glass of wine at the next party I go to.) I’d like to explore this vegan thing more but I don’t know about giving up real cheese…or cake…will have to see. I know how I feel right now so that’s a huge motivator.  And after having so much direct heat applied in my life, I know only great transformation can happen. The trick, for me, is to not be afraid of whatever package it comes in.

Cheers!

My anti-stress song

 

March Happenings:

NEW CLASS – Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 am at Yoga Masala. Get your hot yoga one early!

Sunday, March 23 – Adaptive Yoga New Volunteer Training! If you’re interested in volunteering, please let me know!

Saturday, Marcy 29 – Asana Junkies 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at City Yoga

Starting Again

Starting Again

After the TEDx festivities. I don't even remember the last time I wore a pair of tights.

January was a fantastic birthday month! Thank you to all who participated. The month was highlighted with a massage, a fancy burlesque show, a visit with one of my favorite young men, a paint and pour party with my peeps (gotta have my wine), and ended with a quiet evening with close friends.

And oh yeah…I did a TEDx talk.

After the TEDx festivities. I don't even remember the last time I wore a pair of tights.

After the TEDx festivities. I don’t even remember the last time I wore a pair of tights.

TEDxColumbiaSC was definitely a highlight in my career. I got to share my adaptive yoga work with a sold out crowd of 400 people. Up to that date, the largest crowd I’d done a presentation for was 160…so quite the jump. Plus, I wasn’t on a stage with lights in my face…and it wasn’t being recorded for YouTube for internet eternity. (sigh) Somehow I got through it. Before you ask me how you can see the talk, I’ll let you all know when it’s on YouTube. It’ll be a few months. Good time to practice patience.

For my actual birthday party, I had one of those paint and pour parties. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body but I figured the wine would help quite a bit. The only thing that wasn’t fun was the limited amount of people I could invite. My last birthday party…let’s just say there was no limit. But we had a great time at Grapes & Gallery and I would definitely go back again. They made this non-artist enjoy the creating process….so did the bad jokes and Riesling.

Our creations! I'm happy I picked an abstract piece to paint ;)

Our creations! I’m happy I picked an abstract piece to paint ;)

 

Since I’ve pretty much been drinking and eating desserts since Thanksgiving, plus with some added stress from other parts of my life, I’ve decided to cleanse and detox for a month. I find cleansing to be an exercise in self-discipline and a very reflective time. When the world gets too big, narrowing it on purpose by closely monitoring all that you ingest can be very telling and therapeutic. I’ve loaded myself up on reading materials and closed the doors on the tv & stereo cabinet (exceptions being the news and the Olympics about to start up). I’m also participating in another Bikram yoga 30 day challenge. For those of you who missed it before, Bikram yoga is the king of all things hot yoga. The room is at least 105 degrees and the set posture sequence is accessible yet humbling. I did a modified challenge (30 classes in 60 days) this past summer and not only learned alot about myself but also about teaching hot yoga. So this challenge is the real deal – 30 classes in 30 days. It’ll be an intense month but you gotta apply work and heat directly for transformation to occur.

Someone asked me recently if yoga gets easier. Well, based solely on the description above, I’d say my practice is about to kick me in the ass. However, the answer really is multi-layered and ends with “it depends.” Like most things, you get out of your practice what you put into it. (And I’m not just talking about physical postures but that’s where most of us start…and sometimes end.) I’ve come to realize that people “get better” at yoga depending on their own personal reasons for engaging the practice. If you only want to sweat or stretch your hamstrings, yes, your practice may get easier with time. If you want to dabble in philosophy and the application to situations in your life, then my response is not a simple “yes it gets easier.” If you’re into meditation, I think what gets reflected back to you in meditation is simply the truth – what you will do with it is a whole other story.

For me personally, my practice hasn’t gotten easier simply because I engage my practice now very differently than I did as a college freshman. As I grow, my practice grows. As my practice grows, I grow. My set point keeps changing as life changes. My reasons for practice have changed over the years. Some days I’m better at sticking at it than others but I’ve never claimed to be anything but a human capable of mistakes. This cleanse allows me to start again. To take time for me so that I can be of better service to you my students, my volunteers, my teens, my friends, and my family. In other words, the people who teach me about living.

And you all teach my alot.

 

2014

2014

Asana Junkies starts again Jan. 31!

We made it. Another year. And here I am embarking on my 3rd year as a full time yoga teacher…and I couldn’t do it without you. I know it’s cliche’ but 2014 is going to be big. I, personally, had a very different energy ringing in this year. I’m usually good with the party until midnight and then a very sullen mood kicks in. It’s been this way for years. I’ve known the root of the issue – a deep sense of loneliness –  yet could never seem to do anything to solve it. My close friends know I’ve done alot of personal work lately that definitely paid off with Dara not turning into Debbie Downer ringing in the new year.

January is also my birth month. And as some of you know, I’m a big birthday brat. I celebrate the whole month with at least one special event a week. There are plans for massages, food, and wine, lots of wine…and then a full on cleanse in February.

I want only 2 things this year for my birthday. The first is to know the people I care about are okay. It seems like such a simple request. However, life doesn’t always turn out that way. 2013 ended kinda rough for some of my important people. They know who they are and that I’m here and sending my love.

The second thing is for YOU to come practice with me. My actual birthday is Sunday, Jan. 26. I’ll be 37 and as my teens who give me gray hair like to tell me -.I don’t look my age. (It reminds of 20 years ago when I thought 40 was old. What the hell did I know?) There are two opportunities to hang with me on the big day – 11 am at Yoga Masala and 5 pm at City Yoga. Mark your calendars.

January also brings the return of Asana Junkies, the program created by Christina Sell that has re-inspired my practice. Asana Junkies is for asana enthusiasts who are interested in “upping” their physical practice. You don’t have to be able to do everything. I certainly can’t. We will work intelligently and will try a little bit of everything. You do what you can do and then watch with the intention to learn. We have a ton of fun and problem solve together. I don’t claim to have all the answers. Everyone brings their own wisdom to the mat. The perquisites are a sense of adventure and the ability to laugh at yourself. If you’re interested in practicing with us, just c’mon. If you have any questions, let me know.

Asana Junkies comes back Saturday, Jan. 25 at 10:30 am – 12;30 pm  at City Yoga $10

Asana Junkies starts again Jan. 25!

Asana Junkies starts again Jan. 25!

 

January Happenings:

Two new classes at Yoga Masala!  Sunday Morning Session at 11 am & Fundamentals on Tuesdays at 7 pm

Asana Junkies – Jan. 25 at 10:30 am at City Yoga

Jan. 26 – my birthday! Come practice with me!

Finding Space

Finding Space

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If you have ever been in a crammed yoga class with me, you know that I can always find space to fit more people. It’s something I learned from watching my mom at Thanksgiving and after dinner parties. She’d pack leftovers in an already packed fridge stating, “I’ll find space.”

I was re-taught that lesson this weekend. I went home for Thanksgiving and didn’t do a lick of work (which was nice but now I’m behind….the price we pay). Since it was just me and mom in the house, she wanted to put the Christmas tree up together. Now, you have to understand that we downgraded from a full sized tree years ago. And mom decorates the house from top to bottom in things that we’re not allowed to touch. (After years of having the plastic still on the seats of the dining room chairs, I convinced her that all her children were now over 30 and weren’t likely to spill Kool-Aid on her seats. We will see if the plastic is gone in a few weeks.) I don’t know what she’s going to do when she does have grandchildren. Probably ban us from the house.

So it’s me and mom and this tabletop tree, and about 1000 ornaments. As we’re pulling out bags and testing lights the only thing mom says is every ornament must go on the tree. Now I’m looking at the ratio of ornaments to branches on this little table sized tree thinking she must be crazy. So I start the process of hanging ornaments while there’s a sappy Hallmark channel holiday movie blaring on the tv. I’m slowly starting to get bit by holiday spirit.

It’s been awhile since I decorated a tree. It’s usually done by the time I get to mom’s house and I don’t put one up in my own. I had forgotten the tedious work that can go into “balancing” the tree. Not too much gold on this side. Or too much red on the other. After way too much detail on my part, I think I’m done. The tree is “balanced,” looks full, and pretty with the little lights on it. Yet, there’s still about 2 dozen ornaments that haven’t made it on. Now I’m well aware that everyone’s holiday decorating tastes are different but I’m not exaggerating when I say the tree was FULL. Yet, mom picks up the last of the ornaments and declares she’ll find space. And I’ll be damned if 10 minutes later, every ornament hung and the tree didn’t look worse for the wear.

I’m not sure how she does it – the always finding space thing. Mom always found space for the people I’d bring home in college who didn’t have anywhere to go. She always found space to create warmth and happiness during the years that we had little reason to smile. And she has always found space to be the first person on a dance floor.

It makes me stop and think how I am (or am not) opening up to the potential of the space around and within me.

Just something else to contemplate while admiring the twinkling lights.

 

Tree2013

 

December Happenings:

Arm Balance Workshop – Saturday, Dec. 7 at Balance. Your Yoga in Irmo. See website for details.

Expansion Workshop – Sunday, Dec. 8 at Southern Sky Yoga in NE Columbia

DaraWorkshop

 

 

Secrets and Surprises

Secrets and Surprises

TEDxColumbia 2014 creq

When I was a kid, I could never keep a secret. I really didn’t understand the point.

The tradition at Christmas in our family was (and still is) to buy gifts for the children of family friends. I was probably about 6 or 7 when my mom bought these really great frog slippers for the daughter of a family friend. I was so excited to give them to her that I told her about them at recess one day before Christmas break. One evening as I watched my mom wrap gifts, including said frog slippers, I expressed how excited our friend would be to get her slippers. Mom said yes, surprises are great. And I followed up with wording that expressed that I told her. Mom looked very disappointed and said it was a secret and you don’t share secrets. Funny, I could have swore I just heard her say it was a surprise and surprises are great so why wouldn’t I want to share them?

Clearly, I was just too young to understand. Though I still don’t really understand secrets. The more work you put into keeping something hidden to more it’s going to bang on the closet door. To this day, I have very few things I consider secrets. If you hang out with my long enough and we drink enough wine, you’ll find them all out anyway.  BUT I am a big fan of surprises…especially if they’re wrapped in bows.

So, unless you stalk my FB page, I have a few surprises for you!

I’m presenting at TEDxColumbiaSC on January, 20, 2014! You shouldn’t come to just to see me (because to be honest, if you follow this blog, you’ve already heard my story). You should come because I’ve had a chance to meet a majority of the presenters and performers and I’m tickled to be in their company. There really are some very interesting people in Columbia doing some very interesting work. For details and/or tickets, go here —–> http://tedxcolumbiasc.com/

TEDxColumbia 2014 creq

TEDxColumbiaSC 2014 crew

 

Another sweet surprise came this October from ABLE SC. All I can say is Columbia, you helped make all this possible.

Happy to help create this opportunity for Columbia

 

Last but not least, in spirit of no secrets, the holidays are coming up which means I (and you) will be taking some breaks. I’m taking a long Thanksgiving break but a shorter one at Christmas. My family is coming for the TEDx event and that’s right before my birthday (and you know I’m kind of a brat about my birthday). However, this upcoming birthday I’m trying to plan a surprise for someone else and I’ll need your help. More to come later…and yea, it’s kind of a secret for now.

 

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, Nov. 9 – Bend It Like Dara: Backbending workshop @ Yoga Masala

Saturday, Dec. 7 – Circle of Influence Leadership Conference

Saturday, Dec. 7 – Workshop @ Balance. Your Yoga (Irmo)

Sunday, Dec. 8 – Workshop @ Southern Sky Yoga (NE Columbia)

**New lunch class at the Downtown Y on Tuesday/Thursday at 12:10

 

Save the Last Dance

Save the Last Dance

Me - about age 3

I tell my college kids that they can detect patterns in their life and behavior in something as simple as journaling…or looking back at old Facebook posts…or even old Tweets. I’ve kept a journal for most of  my life. Writing for me is not only a creative outlet (did you know I write short stories?) but also a means of processing my stuff. Writing gives me time to think, choose my words, and play with a variety of scenarios  until I pick the best way to express myself in the moment. And when I’m not in the mood to think, just feel, it gives me the opportunity to purge so I can process later.

One of the reoccurring themes in my journals over the years has been my love life. It’s only taken me 36 years to figure out what in me needed to change/grow/mature in order to be ready for something more serious. I look back at how much I’ve grown in this area; how my views have changed; what I consider important and what I no longer would bat an eyelash at and I think – thank God. My friend Sara and I were discussing all this earlier this month. I knew I had changed but it’s always confirming to have someone else bring it up and share their observations.

One big thing – I don’t play the blame game anymore. (Ok, in an initial moment of anger – yes. But I do calm down). I’ve come to realize the “it takes two to tango” expression it more true than I originally thought. As a dance partner I have to be willing to be chosen for the dance as well as choose. I have to be willing to follow (if you know me well – that’s not a natural instinct). AND that I am just as responsible for not getting my toes stepped on.

That last one was huge.

Me - about age 3

Me – about age 3

I’ve had my fair share of dance partners, some more significant than others. But I can look back now and say I’ve learned from all of them. If that’s wasn’t the point of all those teary times than I don’t know what else to do with them. Growing up looked way more glamorous when I was a kid.

We all have our growing pains. I know my practice over the years has been an integral part of my growing process. I love when I run into someone that I haven’t seen in a long time and they ask me, “Do you still do yoga?” Um, yes. My practice wasn’t a passing fad. It’s a part of my being and my human experience. I take it one day at a time never claiming perfection – since sometimes I’m the one stepping on toes.

 

I’ll see you on the dance floor.

 

October Happenings:

Halloween playlist: Oct. 24 – 31

**Beginner’s Series (not hot) at Yoga Masala starting Oct. 15 – email me for details!

**LAST Asana Junkies for 2013 – Oct 26 at City Yoga @ 10:45 am

More things coming:

November 9 – Backbend workhsop @ Yoga Masala

December 7 – Another workshop at Balance. Your Yoga in Irmo

Pictures! Pictures!

Pictures! Pictures!

SC representing!

August was full of such beautiful views. I saw beauty in people and in places. It was a great break from the massive amounts of work I’ve been doing getting ready for the semester. August held the first sold out to capacity adaptive class – which also had to be the day the AC conked out (the best of Murphy’s law). And the volunteers, the staff at Yoga Masala….they stepped up in ways I can’t even begin to explain. All so that 10 people could get the opportunity to move, feel and breathe.

Beauty.

I took two trips this month and, of course, I took pictures. In case you don’t stalk my Facebook page, I’m sharing some with you here. I did finally get to introduce Matthew and my mom. That was a great moment – beauty. I also took 3 dedicated volunteers to meet and practice with him. Still working on getting him here to SC!!

Here’s a few pics of the trip:

SC representing!

SC representing!

Me, mom and Matthew

Me, mom and Matthew

 

In August I also reached a personal goal…and this is all I got:

Bikram Challenge Booty

Bikram Challenge Booty

But really, do we need any incentive for a personal goal? How many t-shirts do I have from various events? I could have lived without the shirt (though it became the punchline of many jokes). Knowing that I kicked my own butt and stepped out of my comfort zone…and learned alot – was all the incentive I needed.

What else happened in August? I went to Idaho. And not Boise…Driggs, Idaho. It was beautiful but I was too cold to really appreciate it. And if you ever want to see me turn into a raging bitch, stick me out in the cold. If you want to see the time that I turn cray cray cut in half – stick me out in the cold AND wet. It makes for good entertainment for everyone but me.

Pics you ask?  I have few. Since I was there for a wedding. That was what I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing about for the most part.

View from the plane - The Grand Tetons

View from the plane – The Grand Tetons

Me and the bride (in the mustache). There is such a thing as too much champagne.

Me and the bride (in the mustache). There is such a thing as too much champagne.

 

And that’s it. This September I’m settling back into routine. Teaching all of you, my college kids, the adaptive class and starting back at Carolina Children’s Home this week. I’m taking up a couple other personal challenges because it’s good to grow…and I need more t-shirts.

See you on the mat!

September Happenings:

Asana Junkies – Sept. 28 at City Yoga at 10:45 am (only 2 left this year!!)

Schedule changes:

Thursdays Level 2-3 at City Yoga at 6 pm

Fridays Vinyasa Yoga at Yoga Masala at 8 am (yes, it’s hot)

 

PS – If I were to plan a vacation retreat for next summer, where are some places you’d like to go practice and relax? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

Summer’s End

Summer’s End

YFE Class

Where the heck did summer go? It’s already August! I was just getting used to the rain….

So here we are in August – school is about to start back and life is about to get very, very busy again for many of us. If nothing else the traffic downtown will let us know summer is over.

As many of you know, this past month I’ve been participating in a Bikram yoga challenge – 30 classes in 60 days (a slightly watered down version of the traditional challenge to accommodate summer vacations). As I’m writing this I’ve completed 29 of the 30 classes and am scheduled to complete the challenge this week. If you’re not familiar with Bikram, they’re the hot yoga kings. They also practice with a mirror which is a little different than we’re used to. But let me tell ya…I understand now why people feel inspired to write books after completing challenges. They’re HARD. And they’re HUMBLING. The heat will teach you some lessons about yourself. The poses will. And the mirror will never lie.

You’ve actually heard some of the lessons that I’ve learned in class. I interject them into my teaching – like fully engaging the quad, getting your standing leg solid before adding in fancy stuff to your balance poses, being way more aware of the effects of humidity when teaching a hot class, etc. But personally what I’ve learned is not to be ashamed of my body.  That might sound funny coming from me but it’s true. Everyone (especially us ladies) has something we don’t really like about ourselves – from our waistlines, to the crooks of our big toes. I can always find something to complain about. Ask any of my friends. But I’ve found myself walking into Bikram classes, wearing practically a bathing suit, and seeing nothing but how my muscles contract, how they extend, what my own eyes look like when I’m concentrating and when I’m not. It’s very fascinating…and scary. We talk sometimes about relationships being a mirror. But what type of relationship do you have with yourself…really?

I’ve had a great deal of fun diving into something so very different from my personal practice and background. It both opened my eyes to new approaches and affirmed what I already knew. What will I dive into next? Maybe Yin. I know VERY little about the practice. But first I’m doing a meditation program. After all the asana that has filled the summer, I think my body will appreciate me sitting still.

Before I plot out next summer, I have to plan for this fall. I consider myself very blessed to be able to teach yoga full time. I’m at the point where my practice has called me to give it back so I’ve been teaching an adaptive yoga class here in Columbia at Yoga Masala. This is about HALF our group – volunteers and students. This class couldn’t happen without either!

YFE Class

Due to school starting back soon, some of the volunteers will need to cut back or drop out of the rotation cycle. Do you know someone who’d like to volunteer? Maybe you? You do not need any special background or knowledge just the willingness to share yoga and expand your definition of the practice.

The next volunteer training is Sunday, Sept. 8. Class is held on Wednesdays at 6:15 pm. You must be able to attend training and be available on a Wednesday (not every). If you’re interested in more information about class or volunteering – email me at yogadara@aol.com

 

August Happenings:

I’m traveling a bit so enjoy your guest teachers!

Asana Junkies – 8/31 at 10:45 at City Yoga

 

 

 

 

The Seat of the Hero

The Seat of the Hero

Vhirasana

Hero.

There’s word that makes many of us feel uncomfortable…unless we’re using it to describe someone else.

Face it. We’re all a hero to someone. It doesn’t mean you rescued someone from an oncoming train (or maybe you did) but it does mean you “saved the day” for one person that it mattered the most to.

I watched my friends be heroes this weekend. We went out to the river to kayak. (Yes, it’s been raining 40 days and 40 nights – maybe not the smartest idea.) And if you go to the river when it’s in flood stage you need to be with folks trained in river rescue…like I was.

Needless to say that I, the novice kayaker, didn’t make it very far down the river before I got very acquainted with the 50 degree year-round water. I’m very grateful that the first lesson in sit-in kayaking is how to wet exit the kayak in an emergency. That’s at least ONE skill that I have down.

On our walk back to the cars, we heard some fisherman yelling. We went to see what was going on and saw empty kayaks rapidly floating down the river. My friends Brice and Charles did not hesitate and hopped back into the fast-paced cold water.

Now some of you know Brice. He’s usually in the corner of class heckling me in some fashion. I’ve known him forever and in many ways he’s the big brother I never had. I’ve always known that for as much as he jokes, he takes safety for the activities he loves very seriously, which includes kayaking. It was an honor (and a bit nerve wracking) watching him take the seat of the hero and rescue three teenage boys from the cold water.

The seat of the hero is not always an easy one to take and you don’t have to be rescuing people from possible death. Today my friend Jenny and I made a simple visit to a wedding dress shop to check on THE wedding dress for a our friend the bride (who’s 1000 miles away) that had yet to arrive. We left feeling a bit defeated but then found out later that our visit prompted a search and the dress was found…at the shop….the whole time.

Vhirasana, hero’s pose, reminds us that the seat of the hero isn’t always easy to take. It can take patience, humility, and the willingness to compromise. However, it also takes repetition. We’re all called up to be a hero, or in my layman’s terms, a friend. It’s a pose that metaphorically may never be “perfected.” It’s a part of our human condition to screw up from time to time. However, in the seat of the hero, you put someone else’s needs ahead of you own. Opening the possibility for a day saved and the opportunity to practice again.

Vhirasana

Vhirasana

I also want to share this. This is a segment from WACH Fox 57 on the adaptive yoga class. I was hesitant at first. Since I have no children of my own yet, I tend to get fiercely protective of my family, friends, and students. But I resolved a while back that this program is much bigger than I am and the more people who know and understand the better.

Enjoy and share.

 

July Offerings:

July 13 – Flight School at Yoga Masala @ 11 am

July 27 – Asana Junkies at City Yoga @ 10:45 am

For the most current news follow me on Facebook!

Appreciation

Appreciation

Me and Matthew

It’s been quite the month. I spent some time in Minnesota furthering my training in adaptive yoga. I went to Wisconsin to visit my best friend Laura. I went to Austin to get my butt kicked. And started the adaptive yoga class here in Columbia.

I can’t begin to summarize the month for you. So I’ll load you up on picks from Facebook 🙂

Minnesota: I was totally challenged to think and practice differently this weekend like I am every time I study with Matthew. Still working on getting him to South Carolina…

 

Matthew teaching. Us listening.

Matthew teaching. Us listening.

Hangin' with Tiffini Carlson. Tiff's a writer. Ya'll should google her and check out her work.

Hangin’ with Tiffini Carlson. Tiff’s a writer. Ya’ll should google her and check out her work.

Me and Matthew

Me and Matthew

 

 

Austin: Was freaking amazing! It’s the first time I’ve seen so many different types of practitioners from different hatha schools come together to share ideas and roll out mats together. That does NOT happen. I was so inspired by what I learned particularly from the Bikram teacher, that I’ve signed up for the summer challenge at Bikram Columbia that begins Monday. Yes, I know it’s kinda crazy but if you know their beginner sequence…I’ll have some killer spinal mobility by the end!

I love these pants

I love these pants

 

Yes, there was this kind of insane, beautiful craziness going down in Austin.

Yes, there was this kind of insane, beautiful craziness going down in Austin.

 

I also had the opportunity to teach a demo adaptive class at ABLE South Carolina. It was a great group and after the class, I answered a few questions. One young woman raised her hand and the conversation went a little something like this.

Young Woman: “Would you consider traveling?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Young Woman: “I’ve been looking for something like this for a very long time and I’ll try to come Columbia as much as I can. But I live in Sumter and came out here just to come to this (the demo class).”

I didn’t say no.

I didn’t say no because a year ago, I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing. So I told her anything was possible. I know that doesn’t really answer her question, but I’m looking into expanding and encouraging other teachers to pick this torch up as well.

What I really got out of this brief contact with this young woman is how much I take my practice for granted. It’s so easy for me to hop in the car, or an airplane, pop in a dvd, or even just turn on my computer and be able to guided through an asana  practice. Sure, there is yoga in Sumter. But there’s no one that can guide her. I implore you to take a moment to be grateful for how easily accessible the practice is to you. How easily accessible many things are to you.

Trust me, I know we all got our problems but sitting up on our own without any support, walking, and being able to sign your own name probably aren’t on your list. Today, don’t take anything for granted – the crabby people at work, your kids’ annoying behaviors, or that tweaked muscle you may have. You never know when it could all be taken from you.

 

June Happenings:

June 15 – Handstand workshop at Balance. Your Yoga in Irmo, SC

June 23 – Guest teaching the 2-hour Level 3 class at City Yoga

June 24 – Adaptive Yoga Demo with MS Support Group at Providence NE Hospital

June 29 – Asana Junkies at City Yoga

and…

July 4 – Happy to lead the only practice at Yoga Masala at 9 am

 

Where did the time go?

Where did the time go?

photo (20) - Copy

It’s May 1…already!

I could have sworn New Year’s Eve was yesterday.

If you had asked me a few months ago what I would be doing for the summer, I would have said, “Hanging around.” Um..that story has now changed.

First, I’m travelling a bit this month to study more with Matthew Sanford and Christina Sell so you have so great guest teachers lined up. Keep up with my adventures in real time on Facebook or wait till I get home 😉

Second, the Yoga For Everyone (adaptive yoga class) begins May 15 and the response has been AMAZING! Almost 40 people signed up to volunteer. I’m in contact with 4 organizations: Spinal Cord Injury Association, Babcock Center, our local MDA , and ABLE South Carolina. And my phone and email are going crazy with inquiries.  If anyone asks you about the class, information can now be found directly on my website.

photo (20) - Copy

Some of the props for Yoga For Everyone

 

Third, for the first time I’ll be teaching a 3 hour credit public health course at Columbia College this fall…time to plan a brand a new course!

Oh…and Flight School at Yoga Masala on May 11 and Asana Junkies meets on May 25 at City Yoga. And a handstand workshop coming up in June at Balance. Your Yoga in Irmo.

So much for sitting by the pool.

I’m guest teaching a bunch this month too so keep your eyes open for me! See you on the mat!

Dara

 

 

 

Yoga For Everyone

Yoga For Everyone

The whole group - volunteers and participants

I have the best job ever.

I know many of you can also say that as well. I’m so very lucky that I can make my living as a yoga teacher. And that I get to share the beauty of this practice with all of you.

As most of you know, I’ve spent alot of time this past year studying adaptive yoga with Matthew Sanford. It’s been one of the rewarding and challenging processes I’ve ever been through. I knew after my first class with him that I had to bring his vision and work to South Carolina. And I’m so happy that you all have been willing to listen, learn and participate.

After months of networking, I was able to get on the monthly support meeting calendar for the SC Spinal Cord Association. I trained volunteers that had experience on a yoga mat. No needed expertise with spinal cord injury or disability required. All the volunteers were so willing to learn how to assist in order to best share the practice of yoga that we all have benefited from.

The whole group - volunteers and participants

The whole group – volunteers and participants

 

The demo class went extremely well! And now I’m putting wheels in motion to set up Columbia’s first full blown adaptive yoga class. Now you know I believe in celebrating one miracle at time – so I am. I’m happy that Yoga Masala will be hosting the class with ample storage space and accessibility. I’m happy that there are people interested in participating and practicing. And I’m happy that people are still approaching me about volunteering.

 

Down Dog anyone?

Down Dog anyone?

 

Ok, that’s 3 miracles. But one more is still needed.

Equipment is needed. And as proud a woman as I am, I need to ask for help. What makes this easier for me to do is that it’s not help for myself, but for the program and those it will benefit.

I’ve set up one of those donation pages. Every little bit will help. I’ll keep you updated on when we start class and feel free to come by and see what your donation has helped provide. (Maybe even volunteer!)

Here’s the link: rally.org/adaptiveyoga

I’m ambitiously aiming to start classes May 15! Classes will be once a week on Wednesdays at 6:15 pm* and will be held on a donation basis.

 

Joanna's great smile

Joanna’s great smile

 

Here’s the link again. Feel free to pass it on.

*****rally.org/adaptiveyoga*****

 

Big thank you to all the volunteers!

Big thank you to all the volunteers!

Much love,

Dara

 

*Class time subject to change

Twitterpated

My close friends would tell you I’m a big flirt.

(Eh…there may be some truth in that assessment.)

Spring has sprung in a major way. As I spend more time with the teens that I work with, I’ve seen flirting taken to a whole new level that makes even me look like an amateur. It’s amazing, amusing, and sometimes annoying to watch Mother Nature do her work and watch the teens who typically don’t pay each other any attention walk around starry-eyed. It’s a scene straight out of Bambi.

But it’s just not the company of another that we seek during the spring. It’s also the urge to be outside frolicking in the warmth. Even my indoor cat, who has no usual interest in going outside, scratches at the door this time of year. It’s a time when we make time for so many other activities, go on vacations, and clean off the grills and prep the swimming pools (by the way – mine will open in the middle of May. C’mon over.)

It’s also a time where our yoga practice can possibly get replaced for a bike ride or run or lake time. I don’t blame you (just invite me). I’ll be doing as much of that as I can myself. Many yoga teachers know that their business will slow down when the weather gets nice out. I’ll use my “slow period” to dive deeper into my education as a yoga teacher, make plans for fall events and programs, attend weddings, and visit old friends. And yes, maybe do a little flirting (’tis the season).

I do hope that as you’re out enjoying the warmer months that you remember the gifts your practice has given you – whether you come to class or practice at home or on the beach.  But if it gets too hot or the pollen gets to be too much, know that I’m right where you left me – ready to teach and serve in anyway that I can.

 

Peace, Love, and Spring Fever!

Dara

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hey all,

I couldn’t think of any better way to kick off Valentine’s Day then writing to you all. It was one year ago today that I resigned all professional alliances with Anusara yoga.  If you don’t know what happened – good for you! Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.  Just know that I was pushed to the edge of my personal and professional boundaries and some things I  don’t think should be compromised on.

The resignation couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was one month into giving up the ‘day job’ and into teaching full time. It was hard enough telling my family that I was not going to have an office, group insurance plan, or steady income. Now I’d have to back pedal and re-route my career path at lightning speed so that they wouldn’t worry about me. But I can confidently say this:

 

I resigned out a love. Love for the practice itself. Love for each of you. And love for myself. 

 

It’s been a long year but I have fallen in love again with the practice of yoga – and all the different ways there are to practice. How could someone ever get bored? I’ve spent the past few months studying with other teachers in different styles and I feel like my practice, and therefore myself, has grown. I’ve been opening my eyes to new ways of approaching poses, to adding skills to my belt to those with living with limited and different mobility, to using yoga as a platform for social change and giving voice to the voiceless. I’ve never been happier. AND there’s still so much I want to do.

So…this is something I’ve been wanting to create for a while.  Inspired by  Christina Sell (who’s coming to City Yoga April 26-28…just sayin’), in March I’ll begin hosting monthly sessions for all you yoga nerds ready to kick your practice up a notch (or 5).  My hope and dream is a for a group of adventurous yogis to come to together and practice, ask questions, learn from each other, guest instructors and some online resources. Since the sessions are once a month, they shouldn’t interfere with your regular practice. Only enhance it.

What do you need to participate? A sense of adventure. A sense of humor. An open mind.

Don’t worry – more details coming soon. Hope you’ll consider joining us 🙂

 

And while I was playing all those love songs last week, I was asked where the Sinatra was….so in honor of the big Love day – see below. Crank this up and tap your toes. Let yourself smile and your heart sing.

 

Love,

Dara

Aha

Today is known as the Epiphany. The 12th day of Christmas. The arrival of the famous three wise men to Bethlehem to see for themselves the baby Jesus.

Whether you are familiar with the story or not, I find it incredibly beautiful. It’s said they brought gifts, but to me the importance of the story isn’t in the significance of the gifts but in what these three men received. If you’ve been in class with me this week, you’ve heard me talk a little bit about this. I have more ideas in my head to share so I’m writing this  little piece.

I think about this every year – the idea of an epiphany. Oprah calls them “aha moments.” Or you may know them as the moments when suddenly something makes sense or is recognized, like a turning on of the proverbial light bulb.   I looked the word up and this is the definition that really jumped out at me this year:

epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the reality or essential meaning of 
something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.  

     It’s been my experience that personal epiphanies happen when I least expect them, like suddenly one day algebra made sense or the first time I kicked into handstand. Or they occur when I’m the most emotionally open, like when I’m exhausted or upset. They also occur when I’m being incredibly still and quiet. Anyway you cut it, I’m in a pretty receptive state.
     I’ve heard Matthew Sanford talk about receptivity as a discipline. Boy, does that hit home with me very strongly. I have a hard time receiving…anything (help, compliments, etc). Mind you, I have been raised with all my manners so I know to say thank you, but energetically, sometimes it doesn’t soak all the way in. It’s something that I’ve been working on and it’s slowly getting better. Remember, receptivity is a discipline and requires practice – like kicking into handstand.
     Going back to the wise men for a bit for those not familiar with the story. The set out on a path, a journey, guided by the brightest star in the night sky. Now we all know paths are not always easy. And only the wise men know what they did in the daytime when stars aren’t necessarily visible. Yes, they very likely had some divine intervention, but the metaphor is still the same. If you’re reading this, you’ve very likely have started on some spiritual path or journey (or at least have an interest in one).  We may be guided by a bright star or good intention or personal lit light bulb, but sometimes we lose visibility of what the purpose was or we get distracted by something else or a sandstorm kicks up….you get the picture. And then we have to get back on path. Re-find our light and go again. And I’m not just talking about on our mats. But our mats become a place to practice the discipline it takes to get back on the road again AND be open to the gifts of the journey. Every scar, bruise and scrape is a lesson learned. Work completed for now that may have to be done again. Can we soak those gifts in?
     I think the effort of the wise men’s journey made them all the more receptive to what they witnessed in Bethlehem. The journey may may have left them way more open to receive the gift of viewing the babe.  To be blown wider open by the majesty of the moment. I think they recognized that the beauty they saw and felt in the presence of the babe was a reflection of their own connection to all that is divine in the world and themselves. And I have no doubt that they soaked it all in – aha.

My wish for 2013

I seem to think best or be in my deepest contemplative state right after a good practice. So this morning I rolled out my mat and hit some backbends. I made some good attempts at poses I find difficult…and more than once. This is not the way I normally practice at home. If no one is around, I tend to slack off or more likely half-do a pose because who will know? No one’s watching. But this morning I after convincing myself that a 45 minute practice would do, I found myself doing more because I was finding the challenge challenging but exhilarating. It paid off since now I’m in the mood to write.

I’m thinking about 2012. There have been so many changes in my life in 2012. I’ve lived both a dream and a nightmare. My dream to be a full time yoga teacher was fulfilled. My family kind of understands what I do and that’s good enough. I’ve taught up to 6 classes a day on really busy days and have come home incredibly exhausted but I wouldn’t trade it. Each venue I teach at is different. Every group or individual I work with is different. I learn something new about myself, the practice, and the people who have allowed me the privilege of guiding them every time. That’s worth coming home tired.

The nightmare was the fall of Anusara. I had to rethink my career and my practice real fast. I’m thankful I had years of practice before finding Anusara that I could fall back on and melt into my teaching and practice style. I’m grateful for all the great teachers that I’ve encountered over the years, both on the mat and off, that set the foundation for me to be able to pick myself back up. In the end, we all survived. And I was steered into the world of yoga advocacy which has blown my mind in ways I cannot verbalize.

I’ve also done alot of deep personal work this year. My friends can tell you all about it.  I did alot of redefining of terms in my life – mostly related to romantic relationships. Number one term I redefined was LOVE. I know it sounds silly but it was really important that I do so. In fact, it wasn’t my original intent when I started but it’s what ended up happening. I’ve always cognitively known that you have to love yourself in order for other to love you. But I had no real first hand experience of what that meant until I experienced it physically and energetically. It has nothing to do with sex or desire or another person. It’s simply feels, to me, like the heart is authentically nurtured into a warm, bubbly bliss. And for me it came from stripping away all media and social definitions of love until I was left with just me and my connection to an understanding of pure love.

My goal for 2012 was to survive. Survive in the face of all my “newness.” My goal for 2013 is the thrive. Thrive in every aspect of my life. I’m not naive enough to think their won’t be obstacles and crap isn’t going to happen and I’m not going to argue with people. But I want to thrive in way that I implement ALL of the lessons of 2012 into 2013. I’m asking all of you to help hold me accountable. I’m always willing to share what I’ve learned if you’re willing to share what you’ve learned. We’re on this path together.

Merry Christmas, ya’ll!

 

Peace, love, and backbends,

Dara