Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Enjoy the Sweetness

Hello my dears, it is so nice to be able to wake up, sit down, drink coffee and write a little. It's probably one of my favorite things to do...

I hope all of you have been enjoying February so far. My bones are aching for a little warmth and although, I love snow, I am ready for the weather to start welcoming some sunshine.

Life here has been good, less busy and overall I have been taking a little more time for myself. Okay, it actually feels like a lot of time for myself. It has been so nice, and I have soaked in every minute of it. Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, I went to Dallas for another workshop with Seane Corn. I wrote about the first one I went to with her over a year ago, and revisited the same studio again for a chakra workshop. It was really wonderful. A fun weekend overall, and even though the asana with her was all familiar, the practice took me to a completely different place than I had ever been before. We had a late evening practice Friday, two hour practice on Saturday and on Sunday morning, I woke up feeling something in my heart... an ache, a rawness, I am not really sure, but then I started crying. I couldn't stop. Once I got to the studio that morning, she was asking all of us how we were feeling, a lot of people were experiencing the same thing, but in different places. It is amazing how the practice continues to work, case in point, waking up the next morning with flood gate doors open!
Every time we come to our mats we are moving energy, we are waking it up and releasing it. I realized very quickly what I was releasing. Both another girl and I had the practice take us back, probably to the time when we experienced our first heartbreak and I am not talking about romantic heartbreak, I am talking about the first time, we probably in some way shut ourselves down. In the moment I knew that I needed to do this work, that it was what the whole weekend was for, and to in some way remember love and what love feels like, again not in a romantic way, but in a way that almost like my last post that I wrote, it's a love that is completely freeing, healing, and in a way returns you back to yourself before the heartbreak.

On the way home, I was asked if I make goals or resolutions for the new year and the answer to that question is, I don't. Then, I was asked what I want to do in 2014 or what I want to accomplish... and I immediately thought to myself, that I want to take more time to enjoy... I have done a lot of work, shed many tears, lots of layers, and now, now is the time to enjoy having myself, my whole self, my life and a heart that is free.

If I could tell people anything, it's that we don't get to our joy by bypassing the pain, the grief, etc., joy only comes when we have the courage to face ourselves, to let go, surrender and forgive. The lightness in the heart comes when we are brave enough to work with the shadows, and once we go there, we can go anywhere, because the shadow doesn't chase us, and we really do discover the endless light. :)

En {joy} the sweetness.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Choose love. Be free.

Hello all! I hope this blog post finds you well in 2014. Wishing you guys a very wonderful year. So far, it has been a pretty busy one for me with the yoga studios. However, I feel so blessed to share a practice that has touched my life in so many ways.

I got to thinking today about choices and freedom. A lot of you who read this blog know that I have definitely been through things. I have had my fair share of really intense learning experiences, all of which have taught me more about myself, than I probably ever would have known without them. In a way, and I have mentioned this before, but I think the universe is always trying to heal us. Heal our wounds, our past, things that we have held onto, insecurities, etc. Time and time again, it will bring us situations for the learning/healing to happen, and I think it is up to us to get the lesson. While I was thinking about these things, I realized something for the first time, I am free. Things that I have carried around with me, I have slowly shed layers... on my mat, backpacking and through teaching yoga... I only really realize now, that with all the "work," I am free. Free!

For a long time, I have always been terrified of having my freedom being taken away from me. I have never cared that much for relationships or anything like that because I have always in some way been scared that I will lose a part of myself, my freedom, something... I've always had fear that something will be taken away from me. Only now do I realize that my freedom, no matter what, can't be taken away from me. It is like you try to keep going, through the things that have been painful. You work through the tension, the tightness, the fear, the past, you try to stay awake, and then, the best way I know how to describe it is, it's like you get to the other side. A surrender happens, a letting go, there's a release, a relinquish of control. It is only now that I realize, I made it. Made it to the other side... My heart is free. 

One of the reasons why sharing the practice has been so important to me, is because it helped me process so many things that I couldn't get access to, that my conscious mind couldn't process before. It helped me to scoop out what I buried because I was in some way afraid to feel. People have lately been mentioning to me about finding a "happy" place in yoga, but I always say no, you don't have to find a "happy" place if you're not feeling it that day. The practice doesn't ask for us to be one or another, it simply asks that we show up and feel. We feel everything. My mat became my safe space, where I could go every single day to shed the layers. I have been practicing for about four years now, and in those four years, I set myself free. In yoga, we call this liberation, moksha, it is the ultimate freedom. It is basically the ultimate goal, because when we are free, we get to live our lives and I mean really live our lives. One of our core desires in life, whether we recognize it or not, is freedom. Someone not too long ago asked me what I desire most out of life. I wrote it all down and top of the list, something I was not expecting is my freedom. The freedom, to go, be and do with nothing holding me back or weighing me down. I think the idea of this freedom, it actually has nothing to do with the job, or relationship or anything like that, but has everything to do with the inside. How you feel inside. What inside keeps us from feeling free? The freedom is always there it's always with us because we have choices every day. The big choice is love over fear. Choosing love, day after day even when we get scared, even when the fire starts to get a little "hot" in the kitchen, even when things start getting intense, we have a choice, do we choose love... being in the moment, staying present, not trying to guess the outcome, or control it, or do we choose fear? Choosing love is freedom, choosing fear, is allowing ourselves to be controlled by the very things we don't want.

So as we start to wind up January and move into February, I was just thinking, choose love.

"Stay in the center of the circle and let all things take their course." Lao-Tzu

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Be in the Adventure.

Yes, it has been a while since I last posted. Yes, since... October. It is already November and as the days seem to pass so quickly, I find myself searching out time, whether it be 5 minutes or 5 hours, to enjoy the fall. I flew to San Francisco over the past weekend to spend time with one of my best friends from college and to see one of my yoga teachers. It was a wonderful weekend, but an eye-opening one as well. When everyone gets busy in life, it gets more difficult to carve time for everything you want to do, but at different points life creates certain opportunities for us to slow down. When we get the chance to take time out and to reconnect, I think it is such a wonderful thing-- almost a magical one really, but it can also make you realize the passage of time. It can show us how things change, people change and perhaps you change. I hope that in some way as we get older we all become a little bit more of who we've always been. As we grow up and stop trying to please everyone, or be someone who we think we "should" be, I hope we come closer to ourselves. On Sunday, the last day of the workshop I had been in, my teacher started talking about something that both my mom and I had the same conversation about prior to the workshop. He said that our shakti, agni... that fire part of us, that soul part of us is always waiting for us, and my mom had said the very same thing to me just a few days before. They both were saying how we don't go looking for our soul, but that our soul is actually waiting for us, waiting for us to wake up to it, to listen to it, to realize it, feel it and follow it. I thought that was such an incredible thing to say and a wonderful way to view it. It's not about looking for something, it's about waking up to what already exists. It's waking up to everything we are, to who we are and to who we've always been and are meant to become. I feel so thankful to the practice of yoga, to all of my teachers, my incredible parents and brother, because they have always in some way been the ones who silently and gently shook my soul. As I sit here writing this, I can't help but feel very grateful to all the people, places and practices who in some way helped to wake me back up to myself. I am so thankful for my friend who lives in SF, for all the times she was there for me, especially in college and even though we don't see each other very much now and are very far away, I am so blessed for the times we have spent together. It is funny how life unfolds.... and as one of my teachers always says to me, be in the adventure, stay in it and let it take you where it may. I think the adventure is all about following our soul. We have no idea where it will take us, but if we have the courage to have faith and follow it, I believe it will lead us on the trip of a lifetime and you don't have to worry about losing yourself, because you already have everything you need. 

So go. Adventure. Ask for you what you want and don't go back to sleep. :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Energy Bites

I found this recipe from Gimme' Some Oven the other day and I can't wait to make them today for class tonight! Here is the recipe if you would like to make them too!

Gimme' Some Oven:: No Bake Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 8 oz. (about 1 packed cup) chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry, not cooked)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a food processor, and pulse until smooth and combined.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pepitas until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Once the mixture is cool (and easier to work with), use a spoon or cookie scoop to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. (Mine were about 1-inch in diameter.) Alternately, you can line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and press the mixture evenly into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. (Storing them in the refrigerator especially helps the energy bites hold their shape.)
Ali’s Tip: If you feel like adding a little extra sweetness, these would also be great with some cinnamon or white chocolate chips tossed in.

A note.

It's funny how a simple note can make our whole day. This morning I woke up to one from Natalia in Moscow, a dedicated reader of this blog, and I felt so thankful for her kind words. Writing this blog, has always been one of my favorite things to get up and do... It serves now as almost a diary or journal noting the past 3 to 4 years of my life. I started writing this as a way to reach out, to share and to be a little more courageous when it comes to honesty with myself and others. Like yoga, it serves almost as check-in because I can only really write what I feel.

I just wanted to say thank you to Natalia for the sweet note, my friend Ransom for sending me a book last week, and all the other people in my life who constantly encourage me every single day to keep going...

Around this time last year, here are a few things I was writing about:

-Most Importantly

:) Wishing you all a lovely October day!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A moment of beauty...

Hi all, I just wanted to take some time to write this evening. I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of fall. The leaves haven't really started changing here yet, but they will be soon. When the seasons change, I often think about change. Lately, my life has been a mixture of change and consistency. While I feel like in some ways my whole world has opened up, there are some things that remain the same, which is quite nice.

I never really get personal on here about relationships and my love life, but recently I was in a relationship that ended at the beginning of last week, after I got back from a week long yoga training in Dallas. The relationship, even though fleeting, still taught me a lot about myself and the past few days I've found myself kind of reflecting on all the past relationships I've had, and on this one in particular. I am not sure if I believe that there is one person out there for us but, I do believe that each person shows up in the moment at the right time to teach us something.

All of my relationships that I've had, and I've had many, have for the most part ended very lovingly and this one topped the charts. It didn't end because we didn't get along, or didn't have affection and love for each other, it ended because I have been all consumed with the yoga studio and all that it entails and my life simply doesn't have room in it for anything else, at this time. Now, that I am, single, it is nice not having  to live up to anyone else's expectations. As I got to really thinking about this, I realized that, that doesn't only apply for the romantic relationships that I've had, but in all realms of my life. For the first time, I feel that I am not inclined to live up to anyone's expectations, but my own. This is slightly a weird feeling, but a very good one.

Lately, I would say for the past week, I have been feeling my own strength and in a way I feel that it is partly due to the last relationship. He never took anything away from me and I mean this on the basic level that he never put me down, in fact he never failed to let me know how beautiful he believed me to be... and I am not one to take compliments well. I would always say no, that he was crazy and then I would mention other girls he should date that are far prettier than me. (I am crazy, I know)

But there was one afternoon and I don't think I will ever forget it... I'm not even sure what we were talking about, but he just stopped talking and said please agree with me that you are beautiful. I said, no, no, you are crazy. Why would I ever say that? He said, I am not going to talk about anything else until you tell me that you are beautiful, until you say to me "I am beautiful." For some reason, this felt like asking me to walk into the grocery store naked or to do something equally as crazy like go to work in pajamas. I just couldn't do it. Tears were streaming down my face and I felt like this was the hardest thing in the world, and it was almost like he was in some way torturing me. But finally, as I sat there now almost sobbing, I said it. I think I kind of screamed it, just so he would stop pestering me about it. He hugged me and he told me that I must know this and believe it. This was really the last full conversation we had. A few days later, I left for Houston and then went on to Dallas for a training. While I was in Houston, I went with my friend to buy makeup. There was a lady at the counter who of course wanted to show me some things. I sat down in the chair, curious, because lately I had not been sleeping and it was showing. She started doing my make up and after a while she held up the mirror. Usually I am terrified to look at the results because, I tend to think I look like a circus clown with make up on, but when she held it up, I looked at her and I said, oh my gosh, I am beautiful. The words just spilled out and the thing was, I believed it, for the first time in my life it was like I could see myself. I don't think it really had much to do with the make up at all, but more or less due to the fact that I felt it. So to the boy who made me say that out loud, I am forever grateful. We both said when we decided to part ways, that we would be a little jealous of who the other person ends up with. I know the girl he ends up with will not go a day without being told she's beautiful every single day. But, I also know that I won't forget him for the gift he gave me.

"Often in our lives, we don't realize the significance of a relationship until later, when the experience has passed. Then we understand how the person helped us along the way, took us to the next part of our journey, opened us up to begin learning the next lesson...

Each moment, each interaction with another person has been important -- the quiet interactions, the ones that we barely notice, and the more significant relationships. Each moment- the moments that hurt, the moments that brought joy- helped. We touched each other. We were joined in an intricate dance, a dance in which our souls learned and grew.

And we had taken our places with each other on time, for the dance was perfectly choreographed...

Joyful that we had helped each other learn the lessons of the soul: courage, love, forgiveness, gentleness, self-love." Melody Beattie

So girls, I would say date the guy who not only tells you that you're beautiful, but actually makes you believe it for yourself, because you are. :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An adventure back to myself...

Hi there, I am happy to be sitting here writing. We are at the end of August, approaching the beginning of September and I can't seem to wrap my mind around it. This month has flown by and where to begin, I'm not even sure. My teacher, Maria flew into town from Yoga Ananda in Houston. It was wonderful to have her here in Arkansas and to show her Maitri, since Maitri would not exist without her and YA.

It is crazy how things can change so much within one year. At this time last year, I was still living in Houston, and trying to figure out whether to move to Fayetteville or not. Having Maria in town, was almost like showing her everything she has given me. Yoga truly gave me back my life in a way I could have never imagined the first time I stepped onto a yoga mat.

I think in some ways I have always been afraid to be seen, always been afraid to show up for myself and therefore couldn't really show up for anyone else. When I was 19 something happened, something shifted. I stopped trusting and I checked out. Although I was still walking around functioning, that's about all I was doing. I made decisions that were easy, I made decisions playing it safe so I would never really have to show up or get hurt. It took me a long time to take the disconnected parts of myself and mend them together. I've had many tears fall in yoga, along with lots of sweat and with the out and out resistance faced every single day on the mat, all of this led to slowly shedding the layers of armor I had built around myself. My yoga mat turned me inward so much so, that I little by little started grieving. Grieving for the past, all the times I had never stuck up for myself or fought for myself, grieving for the fear I've felt of vulnerability and slowly realizing how I've seemed to keep everyone at an arm's length distance. Maria, without even knowing it helped me to face all of these things on the mat and what came from it was forgiveness. Realizing that I couldn't have done any better than I did at the time. That forgiveness in many ways led to love, a self-love, which turned into courage and what came from that was Maitri. I mentioned this in a recent post, but at Maitri I am being "seen" every single day I teach. I've put my heart and soul into Maitri and everyone who walks through that door has a window into my humanness that I struggle with every single day. When I taught a class for Maria while she was here, I realized something. I didn't want to fail in front of her... and what did I do? I taught the worst class I've ever taught in my life, or at least, what I thought was the worst class. I cried after that class. I cried and I cried and I wanted to give up. But then I realized something that I hadn't thought about since opening Maitri, I would rather fail a thousand times over than never teach another yoga class. That day, I forgave myself again for being imperfect and I realized that there are so many gifts in our perceived failures. If I hadn't taught a shitty class, then I would have missed the gift, the gift of letting go of the approval from anyone. Maria, my mom, my dad, my brother, my friends, anyone...
Even though I have fear, even though I still have self-doubt and sometimes am very hard on myself, I am reminded to forgive myself, let go and to keep going, and that is what I will remind every person who walks through Maitri every single day. So, as we start to close out the end of August, I am thankful; thankful for each and every new beginning and the fear that reminds us to have the courage to live anyway. :) ::namaste::