starfish

Starfish

As a man walked down the beach, he came across another man. He observed this man picking up starfish and throwing them back to the sea. 

He calls out to the man, “you there! What is it that you are doing?”

The man responds, “the starfish were left behind by the tide. As the sun rises, the sand heats up, burning the starfish to death. I’m throwing them back to the sea, to safety.”

The other man looks at him, incredulously, “but there are hundreds of miles of beach, and thousand of starfish. What difference can you make?”

The man shrugged, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the water, “it made a difference to that one.”

— Adapted from The Star Thrower
by Loren C. Eiseley

starfish

In a world of big problems, it is easy to feel helpless. It can be easy to do nothing and make up excuses, lamenting the seemingly meaningless results that I, as a person, can accomplish.

The question repeats: What can I do?

  • I can smile at a stranger.
  • I can hold the door for the next person.
  • I can let the car alongside me merge at construction.
  • I can recycle.
  • I can re-use bags at the grocery store.
  • I can treat every person I come into contact with the respect and dignity they deserve as a living being.

I can control my actions and let my intentions guide their effects. I can use my actions as a means of service to those around me.

I can bow to the light within you.

Namaste!

Family Yoga

When you picture someone doing yoga, you likely picture a group in a yoga studio, or a gym.

Many of us, however, do most of our practicing at home. This can come with a variety of challenges. I have two kids, therefore, two challenges. When I practice around my children, my practice is not the quiet, smooth, graceful practice I have in a studio. My downward dog is used as a tunnel by son as my daughter commands my attention to look at HER downward dog. 

Some people would ask me: why do you bother? Why don’t you pick a different time? I have a few answers:
                1)Honestly, I don’t want to get up a couple of hours early most days. A tired Yogi Chelsea is an unfocused Yogi Chelsea.
                 2)My kids interest/participation in yoga makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. As a yoga teacher, I’m extremely passionate about what yoga can offer and seeing my children connect with it is rewarding beyond belief. 
                 3)They remind me not to take myself too serious. I mean really, you try not laughing as you “moo” into Cow and “meow” into Cat. I dare you.
                 4)They show me how much I’m really learning. Finding peace in a candle-lit yoga studio with soft music is pretty easy. Finding peace when a toddler sits on you in Cobra? THERE’S the challenge!

So while, yes, there are days I long for a tranquil yoga space at home, I continue to greet my challengers with the inclusive love and acceptance they show me every day.

Yoga Class Prep Q&A

If you’ve never taken a yoga class, you may have some questions. Here are some of the most common questions with the best answers I can offer.

What do I need to bring/buy?
 Most studio have mats that you may borrow/rent. However, if you are planning to commit to a practice, you’ll likely want to practice at home, which will require a mat. There’s a lot of great information on the internet about types of mats. Some mats are thinner, or longer, than others. They are also made with different materials, some eco-friendly, some with long-term guarantees. To get started, $20 will get you a mat from KMart/Target/Walmart/Dick’s Sporting Goods. You can keep your mat clean with a simple water/vinegar solution, as needed. 

What do I need to wear?
 Yoga clothes can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. While there are plenty of yoga-specific clothing to be purchased, you’ll find plenty of students choosing other options. What you need are clothes that you can move in, comfortably. In a yoga class, you’ll be standing, sitting, laying, reaching up to the sky, down to your toes, and may even find yourself partially upside down. Wear whatever you like that will allow you to do that. 

 Do I need to be flexibile?
  No! This is one of the biggest misconceptions about yoga. There are no special skills required. Yoga can help you increase your flexibility if done regularly over time. 

Can I even do yoga?
 YES! (Probably.) As with any exercise programs or regular physical activity, it’s always advisable to talk to your doctor before beginning. If you’re in a class and not sure you should be following the teacher’s instruction….DON’T! If the teacher advises students with a particular condition (unmedicated blood pressure, neck injuries, sciatica, etc) NOT to do a certain pose, LISTEN. Many times, teachers will provide alternate poses or you may enjoy a moment’s rest. 

What do I do when I arrive?
In a best case scenario, the teacher will welcome you, ask if you have any concerns about beginning yoga, and show you where you may set your jacket/purse/shoes.  If for some reason, the teacher is with another student, and not able to immediately make contact, you can usually follow the other students’ lead. Yogis are commonly a friendly bunch, so if you can’t find something or aren’t sure where to set up your mat, ask someone. We were all new once!

These are just a few things that I’ve heard from potential students (and myself). If you have any questions, leave a comment!

How I got here

In the summer of 2009, I signed up for my first yoga class. It was outdoors, at an amphitheater on the water. I knew that yoga was supposed to be good for stress management (which I was right about). I thought is was an “easy” workout (which I was wrong about).

When I left that class I knew that I would do yoga for the rest of my life. I felt alive. I felt strong. I felt peace. I didn’t even realize at first that I didn’t light a cigarette on my way home. I was breathing deeper and the air was fresher than I could ever remember.

Later that summer, the dream of teaching yoga seemed like just that, a dream. It became a whisper in the back of my mind. No matter what though, I couldn’t shake the desire to share what I was learning with others. The more benefits bestowed onto me, the more dedicated I became . To sun salutes (asana), to meditation (dhyana), to alternate nostril breathing (pranayama). I even chanted!

After becoming a mother, and making the decision to stay at home, I began to look for something that could fulfill me in the manner that my previous occupations had. I wanted something that could feed my soul and help me maintain my “non-mom” identity. When the opportunity presented to take a yoga teacher training at my favorite studio, with my favorite teacher, it was too important to let pass me by.

In that summer, I met some extraordinary women and dove into parts of myself long pushed aside for motherhood. I felt my yoga practice grow and slowly, but surely, I became a yoga teacher.

Now that this phase of my training is complete, I’m excited to be reaching out into my community and sharing all that I’ve learned. I’m particularly excited about introducing yoga to people that have yet to experience all that can be attained. I hope to be a good example.

I’m grateful to all the family, friends, teachers, classmates, and students who have helped me to arrive at this point.

Namaste!