Yoga with Betsy​

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Bring in the new year 2018

Posted on January 1, 2018 at 11:49 PM Comments comments (25)
Happy New Year
Hoping 2018 brings you memorable moments and growth.

You know it is so interesting how we are always compelled to make resolutions on January 1st of each year.  I know I have done this for years and it seems somehow I always overextend my thoughts on what I think I can accomplish in the next 12 months...and sometimes they are the same things I put on the list I made last year.

So, instead of setting myself up for failure, I now take my days one at a time. I start where I am right now and move forward in the way it seems best for me right now.  

I struggle with the effects that Fibromyargia has on my body.  Every day, every hour, every moment can change...which means my direction has to change accordingly so that I can maneuver throughout the day in a way that is realistic and doable.  But one thing I never do is give up.  Sure there are times when I am so down I don't know how I could possibly get back up....but then I remind myself that I have been in this place before and I always come out of it in some way or another, and every time I do...I learn something new.

Now, it's not that I think everyone should go through these extreme times of challenge simply to find a direction.  Quite the opposite, I don't want, nor do I ever wish this kind of challenge on anyone.  But some how, the body finds a way to deal, a way to cope, a way to move through it.  

My thoughts always bring me back to what one of the most amazing people I have ever met told me.  No matter what....never, never, never give up.  Tomorrow is another day.  

So when you are tempted to make a list of what you expect of yourself for the coming 12 months, make sure you are kind...realistic...and be o.k. with the fact that you might have to roll some of those things over to another time.  Start where you are, with what you have and do what you can, remember tomorrow is another day.

Is this class right for me?

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 1:54 PM Comments comments (5)
So often I am told by a student that they have a friend that would like to take yoga but they aren't sure if the classes are right for them.
Having never taken a yoga class, the different styles and teaching techniques can be confusing. 
There are so many ways you can tackle this.
*If your friend is a good friend, you know if the classes you are taking are right for them.  Be honest. 
*Research  Look up the yoga styles and see if it is even something that you would feel comfortable with.  There is only one style of yoga that I have huge issues with.  The rest, even the more unconventional and non-traditional styles, have value.  Personally I treasure the styles that encourage a healthy lifestyle all around.  Not just on the mat.
*Request time to talk to an instructor before a class to discuss whatever limitations or concerns you might have.
*See if you can observe a class before taking it.  I have one class with a glass door that I don't mind people watching through.  I also love people coming in and telling me their concerns.  Come in, watch, do what you can. 
*Make sure you set yourself up for success, especially if this is your first class or the first one in quite a while.  Take a 'Gentle', 'Yoga for Beginners', 'Yoga 101', or even a class that is set up for those with special issues like arthritis or fibromyalgia.  Those will be very gentle but will also allow you to get acquainted with the instructor.

I already said this but it is worth repeating.  In yoga, in life, you will want to take some chances but when it comes to something new...set yourself up for success.  If you are already having some body or health issues, why would you take a class that might push you so hard you hurt yourself.  You won't want to come back after that. Ease yourself in.  Once you are 'hooked' you won't be able to imagine your life without YOGA :)

To touch or not to touch...

Posted on July 18, 2015 at 5:29 PM Comments comments (0)
I have been in several yoga classes over the years and one thing that always seems to come up is whether or not an instructor should make physical adjustments during a class.
I know that there are as many opinions on the subject, as there are people, but it is certainly one thing that every student should understand.
I am a huge fan, first of all, of asking questions respectfully during a class.  If you are new, you need to understand what it expected of you and what YOU can expect in return. In that same respect, I believe that every instructor should be up front with how they teach, putting any new students in the room at ease...especially if they have never taken a yoga class before.
Personally, I do not adjust my students.  I was brought into the world of teaching yoga, by a wonderful Guru (my dearest Rupaji), who instilled in me the belief that we all are full of energy, both good and bad.  If I am having a bad day, or suffering in any way, I don't want to transfer that energy into my students.  The same goes for students who may be having a bad day, transferring their energy to me. 
I have been in classes where there is a lot of hands on adjustments done.  There are certain styles of yoga that thrive on it.  But, if we are indeed doing yoga with ease and in a manner that is comfortable, adjustments shouldn't be necessary.  Now that doesn't mean a gentle touch between the shoulder blades when they need to relax isn't helpful, it means that I don't push on that area to force relaxation.
I go to one class where the instructor does a very short neck massage on each student as they rest in savasana.  It is really a sweet and wonderful touch.
If you are in a yoga class, it doesn't matter if you are a seasoned yogi or new to the practice, if your instructor asks if you mind being touched, be honest.  No one should be offended by that, and if they ARE then you might want to seek out a new instructor.

Serve others

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 6:07 PM Comments comments (2)
I have just personally put several months of my time and energy into a cause that has touched me and my family.  all I want is to be able to do something, anything to help.  American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Monrovia was this past weekend 8/16-17, and the months, days, hours of planning before were just exhausting. Worth every moment, but exhausting.
There are so many causes that touch so many people and I thought choosing a cancer organization was the best idea.  With family and friends battling...and more battling every seemed the only choice. Every person, EVERY PERSON has been touched by cancer in someway.  However that doesn't make the causes out there, that have touched fewer in numbers any less important.
Find a cause. Any cause will do.  If you can't help by donating money, then help by raising awareness.  Do what you can do.  If you help raise awareness, if you help educate, then in some way money will come.  You will touches someone who can make a difference with their donations and in your own way YOU made that happen.  
So find a cause...Cancer...Depression...ALS...HIVAids...M.S....MDA....Fibromyalgia.  The list goes on and on.  Without education, there is no awareness. Without awareness there is no research.  With no research there is no cure.

Take your Yoga with you

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 6:33 PM Comments comments (3)
I admit it.  I am guilty of thinking that I need a yoga instructor in order to take my yoga with me on vacation.  But the fact of the matter is...and all good yogis need to know this...YOGA is more than the physical act of doing asanas (poses)

Yoga is a practice of mind, body and spirit.  Not just one aspect of life is yoga.  Sure, we all love to do our favorite pose because it makes us feel good but what about the bigger picture.

First thing to always remember is to take good care of yourself.  Ahimsa means non-harming and as so many other things, Ahimsa begins with you.  So when you are traveling there are things you have to remember. 

Lets say you are traveling to a location that involves starting your trip on a plane.  You know it is going to take "x" amount of hours to get from point "A" to point "B".  Be prepared for that.  Take a book, bring along cheerful and enjoyable music to listen to.  If you can sleep on a plane bring a small comfy pillow, wear comfortable clothes.  I never get on a plane without healthy snacks so I am not tempted to spend a fortune on a cookie that my body really doesn't want anyhow.  Plus...those snacks come in handy should you find yourself experiencing and unexpected flight delay.  Even with that delay, stay in the moment.  Enjoy where you are as much as you can and know that sooner or later you will be safely on the next leg of your journey.  Read that book you brought, talk to people around you.  And for goodness sake don't just sit there if it is a long wait.  Get up and move.  I have done asanas on a plane, in an airport and even on the back of a motorcycle.  Where there is a will there is a way.

Stay hydrated, keep a sensible diet, get plenty of rest and move your body whenever possible.  When you are tired or experiencing the effects of travel on your body make sure you get plenty of rest.  Certainly you are going to splurge.  You may be introduced to experiences and foods that are not familiar with you.  That is wonderful. But also remember that all of these things may take a toll on your body so be kind.  Be aware of the way your body is reacting to the things you are doing.

If you are a reader, take a good book with you.  If you chant or have a spiritual practice at home, take that with you as well.  If you find comfort in like minded people gathering together, find a place on your journey that will satisfy that need. Don't deny yourself what you need, so you can enjoy where you are.

The thing is we tend to push ourselves because occasionally we find ourselves places that we may never see again for whatever the reason.  Maybe you have been saving for 10 years to get to your destination and don't see that happening again.  Enjoy every moment, but don't neglect what you know your body needs. 

I have been blessed to have been able to see some beautiful places.  Most of them involve ocean breezes and warm sunshine.  My favorite by far is Maui.  I could go there every year, every month, every day of my life and be happy.  The local food is tempting but there are choices that I know agree with my body better than others so I stick with those so my trip won't be upset by my sensitive system.  There are places I feel a spiritual connection and I spend time there chanting and opening my heart and soul to a giant statue of the Buddha.  There are places I feel like I could stay for hours and so I take my book to the beach and simply relax and enjoy the sound of the ocean and the gentle breezes.  And there are places I enjoy walking, hiking...and yes, practicing asanas.  Sometimes it is on the lanai of our room, sometimes it is on the beach, sometimes it is at my favorite studio "Island Spirit Yoga" in Lahaina.  

Remember, when you are on vacation and away from your normal way of life, always feed your body, your mind and your soul in a beautiful way.  You will enjoy your experience much more and you will come home ready to tackle life refreshed.

Props or no props, that is the question

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 5:56 PM Comments comments (1)
I have recently read several blogs, facebook posts, and emails regarding props in a yoga class.  One that I found particularly interesting was written by a fairly new yoga teacher who was very much pro using props in her class.  In fact I would wager that she may have stock in a yoga block company with the determination she seemed to have in making sure all of her students had and used them.

I was taught by a lovely woman from Bangalore.  In traditional style, I sat at her feet (literally and figuratively) for two years.  I followed her every move, I went to almost all of the classes she taught (missing only the ones that were during the time I had a 'real job'), I did her bidding, and I listened, with great love and respect, to every word that came out of her mouth.  

She taught me so much about taking care of the body and making sure that when it came to doing yoga poses, that they were done with ease and comfort.  Letting the body do what the body can do, and not worrying about the poses that the body cannot do.  That yoga should be able to be done any where, any time. 

Although props do allow the body to get into poses in a way we may not be able to do them otherwise, props should not be something we depend on nor should it be something a yoga instructor should push on a student.  Instead, adjust the pose, configure the pose so that it conforms to the body attempting to do it.  Don't become dependent on props to do what you want to do.  How can the practice you love, truly be yours, if you cannot bring it with you everywhere you go?  

I for one love the ocean.  I have been blessed to travel to some of the most amazing places on this earth to see the ocean as others see it from their part of the world. I refuse to leave my yoga practice behind and yet I also refuse to pay for extra baggage just so I can have two blocks, a mat, a blanket a bolster, etc. I do what I can do, where I am, with just my body.

Now that being said if you have physical issues and a block or a blanket strategically placed can help you be more comfortable then use it.  I am talking more along the lines of using a prop to get you into a 'text book' version of a pose  than what your body can do naturally if you simply make some changes to fit you.

I know I am also just a child in the world of yoga.  But I also know that the Sutras tell us that our yoga practice should be steady and comfortable.  Comfortable in my mind means not beyond your natural, physical comfort zone so, adjust that pose so that you body can do a version of it with the ease and comfort.  Listen to your body.  Know your body. Be kind to your body.

Om Shanti

Yoga Etiquette

Posted on March 22, 2014 at 7:06 PM Comments comments (9)
Ever wonder how a yoga class can seem to be filled with people who know exactly what to do?  How do they know they should take off their shoes?  How do they know where to sit?  What do I do? is all really very easy.  Yoga is usually a group of like minded people who are kind, open hearted and welcoming...until...they aren't.  Actually I kid, a little.  The thing about yoga is that yogis are really no different than anyone else. They appreciate and enjoy a little respect.  Respect for each other, for personal space, and a love of common sense.  Take a look at some of these suggestions and relax, enjoy, and have a great time in any class.  If you still come out of a class feeling like you were out of place, don't give up...just try another class.  You will find the perfect fit for you! Namaste

Yoga Etiquette
Be on time-if you are late please remove your shoes and come in quietly after warm up.
Do not wear perfume, scented lotions or after shave
Turn off your cell phones all the way off (not vibe)
Wear loose comfortable clothing (preferably not short shorts-yoga is traditionally done bare head and feet)
If it hurts, don’t do it!   You are the only one who knows your body.  If you have body issues please let your instructor know before class.
If you must leave early, please leave before meditation.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T !  Yoga is different than many other fitness classes. It is important to be respectful of your instructor and your fellow students.

Thank you-your Yoga instructors and fellow students

Feeling lost?

Posted on July 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM Comments comments (7)
You ever wake up one morning and know that you have plenty to do and find yourself sitting at your computer playing Spider Solitaire at 5 am? OK, well maybe it's just me LOL

Today I am stuck, stuck in that spot where I know my life needs a push in the right direction, but all I can seem to do is stare at the screen in front of me.  It may seem like a waste of time to some but to me I am taking this mindless act, and using it to clear my head so that maybe I can get it together enough to take the first step.

The first step is always the hardest, especially when you aren't sure what is out there.  Will there be something for me to step on to, or will it be just space and I free fall?  All we can do is have faith, in ourselves and in our Dharma....our true path.  I know what my path is, I just need to figure out how to get there.  I hope you can do the same.  It doesn't have to be a big project. For some simply getting out a bed is a big deal. Remember there are helping hands at the ends of each arm willing to hug you.  Surround yourself with like minded people, pour yourself into your passion. I believe I will listen to my own words, for a change :)

"Let him that would move the world, firs move himself" Socrates

Om Shanti, Peace

What brought you to yoga?

Posted on June 23, 2013 at 12:56 AM Comments comments (4)
So, what brought you to yoga?

Let me share a little of my story with you.  Several years ago, I was taking care of my aging Father in Law.  I was beginning to loose myself in his care.  Don't get me wrong, I loved taking care of him, getting to know him in his later years was truly a gift.  But I began to think I had no time to take care of me.

My body, my mind and my spirit were being tested every day.  Then one day I decided to actually go to the gym where my husband and I had had a membership for a couple of years.  That is where I met Pat, a Yoga Instructor that changed my life.  I got stronger and more patient with every class I took.  After a while I was taking a class every day, and sometimes more than once a day.  It saved me!  It was Pat who sent me to my Guru and my Guru who taught and trained me for two years, by her side.

My story is a love story with yoga, my teachers and my path.  I thank, every day, the people who helped me on my journey. 

So...what brought you to yoga?

Studio? Gym? Community Center?

Posted on June 19, 2013 at 7:16 PM Comments comments (11)
How do you choose what yoga classes to take?

One thing to remember is that no matter where you go, as long as your yoga instructor is certified you know that they have gone through a great deal of training to get to where they are.  CYT = Certified Yoga Teacher

There is an organization that registers yoga instructors, Yoga Alliance.  They have certain standards you must meet, plus proof of education and continuing education to become and RYT=Registerd Yoga Teacher
So lets say for example your instructor's business card says RYT200.  This means they have completed the minimum 200 hours of teacher training to become a 200 hour registered yoga teacher.
ERYT=Experienced Registered Yoga instructor which means they have exceeded the minimum by at least 500 additional hours of training.
ERYT200=registered 20 hour teacher with an additional 500 hours of training
RYT500=500 hours of training, ERYT500=500 additional hours above and beyond their 500 hour training.

This is a long way to get to the fact that as long as your instructor has had sufficient training, it shouldn't matter where they teach. A studio setting is lovely, quiet and usually picture perfect so certainly under those circumstances the classes are going to be a bit more expensive.
Gyms, community centers, co-ops etc can be more affordable, however the classes can be larger and you have to be able to look beyond where you are to what you are there for.  Sometimes the setting is nice, but sometimes it may feel institutional. 

Either way, it is not the building that makes the practice enjoyable.  It is the instructor that keeps you coming back for more.  It is the group of people you share the space with.  It is about the experience and what makes it best or most pleasant for you.

Choose your instructors wisely, and you will forever be in the best of hands.

How do you choose your classes?