Monthly Archives: November 2014


Do you ever have those moments when your day has gone along wonderfully and then one minor mishap, one meltdown, or say one dog using your new living room rug as a restroom totally throws off your mood?  The prior 8 hours of marvelousness is quickly forgotten and all focus is on the 15 minute bummer that you face.  The day becomes defined by that slight unfortunate incident.  Why is it so easy to dismiss the earlier portion of the day that involved perfect children, coffee with a friend, and a great yoga class?  As I face such a situation at this moment, I am given the opportunity to take one of two paths – do I sulk and become grumpy for the remaining portion of the day or do I give myself a shake, and say what the hell, michelle, you just had an amazing morning. Big whoop the dog went the bathroom.  Send the kids outside, put the baby in his highchair and grab the steam cleaner.  [Let me instead focus on the wonderful fact that I invested in a steam cleaner…what great fortune.]

I come across the word gratitude a lot lately – especially on Facebook where people are posting their words of gratitude for various aspects of their life.  Some seem to be making a daily habit of writing the items for which they are grateful for that day – everything from good health to a morning coffee.  I love reading these posts.  It’s so enjoyable to read positive updates and also to see the many and often random things for which people feel grateful.  It helps to remind me to appreciate the small and big things in my life that are so awesome.  It also shows me that some of the things I so often take for granted – that morning cup  of coffee, or the kids drawing me a picture – are little treasures of goodness.

It can be easy to slip into moments of whoa is me especially if something is not going according to your plan (and I’m talking about small things – the everyday frustrations – not the big stuff) .  There are times when it seems easier to embrace the whoa is me and succumb to feelings of frustration and bemoan our situation.  Sometimes it is easier to focus on the singular moment of calamity and forget the larger picture of blessings.   My kids are not picking up their toys in this moment but most of the time they do.  I forgo appreciation for ingratitude.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am  reminded again to express gratitude for my blessings.  This may be why I love Thanksgiving.  Christmas is my favorite holiday, but thanksgiving is wonderful in it’s own right; purely about love and appreciation; a day to eat and say thank you.

When I choose to take the path of gratitude rather than resentment or self-pity I emerge as a happier person.  In fact, there are so many benefits of gratitude beyond the people around me being happier to not hear my whining.  When I took that moment to choose the path of big whoop instead of big whine, which believe I don’t always do, I saved myself an immense amount of energy and spared my day.  Erasing self-pity and the negativity in my gut stopped the whole cycle in its tracks.  My life is great and  I wouldn’t change one aspect of it.  As a bonus, living a life of appreciation and gratefulness enhances energy, improves health, and may make us even more attractive. When we are thankful for our many blessings the world transforms, and I’d rather keep my glasses rosy.

Take 5 for the Weekend

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5 Things I am loving for this weekend:

  1. The brilliant Natasha Rizopolous’s Align Your Flow video series.
  2. Wholesome and hearty pumpkin soup, courtesy of Mimi Thorrison, the creator of Mangera gorgeous food blog that you should definitely visit.
  3. Beautiful, simple pottery pieces from Vitrified Studio… maybe Christmas gifts?
  4. Pendleton blankets for the porch.
  5. Speaking of porches…my intended perch for the weekend, reading books with the little ones.

Yoga Introductions

I’m currently teaching a 7 week series, Introduction to Vinyasa Yoga.  This is the third time I have taught the class, and I have loved each “semester.”   My goal is to get the group to enjoy yoga, experience the benefits, stay safe, and hopefully continue a practice.  I want to get the students interested in yoga without intimidating or boring them, and with such a wide range of fitness levels it can be a challenge.  

It’s a nice refresher to lead an intro class and a great opportunity for me to enhance teaching skills.  Beginning yoga students are eager learners and blank slates.  There are no bad asana habits to correct or egos to bruise. It is also a great discipline for me as a yoga instructor.  I can’t take for granted that people will understand yoga jargon, nor permit myself to bark out a sequence of poses nor simply say,” take a vinyasa.”  Rather, I have to deconstruct the poses and offer more variations and detailed instruction.

There is a delicate balance between communicating the right amount of information to send a clear understanding of a pose and overwhelming students with too many directions.  Of course this includes being sensitive to using yoga terminology and body awareness.  In yoga, the subtle adjustments to the body in a pose can be difficult for a new student.  Yoga involves physical perception that a seasoned practitioner can discern, but for a newbie this requirement can seem foreign and maybe even hokey.  Phrases such as “lift the pelvic floor,” “send the breath to the sacrum,” or “spiral inner thighs back” can sound very odd and confusing.


A few helpful things I have discovered:

  • Do the sequence with the class.  For many of the students, this is the first time they are seeing poses so having a visual demonstration from which to work is helpful.
  • Get familiar with the sequence before class; not just reviewing the order of poses but going through it with the perspective of a new student.
  • Include child’s pose liberally.  Many new yogis are following instructions to a T.  Therefore, if you don’t incorporate resting poses, they won’t take them on their own when they may in fact really need one.
  • Offer lots of variations on poses.  This will help balance the range of students.
  • Infuse a bit of sanskrit throughout.  The words sound melodic and provide a sense of authenticity to the class. When the students take a higher level class, they won’t be thrown off by teachers casually tossing out Chaturanga or Virabhadrasana.
  • Offer a casual atmosphere to foster communication.  Encourage questions since many of the other students will often have the same ones as well.

We were all new to yoga at some point.  My first yoga “class” was during high school – an Ali MacGraw VHS set in the desert (very few people can pull off a white unitard like Ms. MacGraw).

How did your yoga practice unfold?  When you started yoga, what elements of the class did you enjoy the best?  What aspects of the teacher did you admire?