Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Tax Man Cometh

“I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I'm in the wrong building.”
-Charles M. Schulz

This month has been chock full of preparation, learning, and fun. Now my practical analytical side has been buzzing along because it is (horror) tax season. Yes, it is the time of year when people reevaluate their financial positions, track specific goals or shrug and don’t give a damn. I have been preparing personal returns and noticing how the inner is reflected against the outer. I’ve come to the realization that financial health has absolutely nothing to do with how an individual looks on the outside. Messy hair, unkempt nails, wrinkled clothing, check. This one MUST be irresponsible financially. Nope, they have a retirement plan, a savings account, and a home. Another client, designer purse, coiffed hair, dressed to the nines. And they have not a dime to their name. Interesting. Maybe the first individual is working two jobs and just completed a 12-hour shift. And possibly the latter individual longs for acceptance and approval from everyone besides herself. Can you judge a book by its cover? I’m not so sure. I’ve been humbled numerous times this past month underestimating, overestimating, and generally blundering my way from expectation to judgment to defeat. As a yoga instructor when I approach the mat I look not at the exterior traits of my students but their inner glow. Intuition is my guide as I feel the energy of the room and observe body posture and gestures.

I went to a teacher reunion this past week and had the honor of being in the presence of local teachers who gathered to share, chat, and practice. What a pleasure it was to move amongst individuals who wanted nothing more than to share their ideas and insights as well as learn from others. Sociologists theorize that society creates sub cultures through various self branding. For example an individual who has multiple piercing, radical hair, and torn jeans aligns themselves differently that with someone else who has a crew cut, pin stripe suit and a crisp white shirt.

I’m not so sure about that either. What about the aspiring singer/ waitress? Or the CEO who rides motorcycles on the weekends and sports a (hidden) tattoo? Or the CPA mom who happens to really enjoy yoga?

What about the scrubby individual that is working and going to school full time that doesn’t have a dime to their name but is investing in their future?

Ah, there is much to learn.

Maybe defeat is not the appropriate word. What about aware? Brought into focus? The light is being turned up! Alright I am on a roll. Next!

So as the door of January closes I come away and reflect on this month’s life lesson. Whether you identify yourself as a student, teacher, parent, partner, whatever; it is not earthly trappings that enable the soul to shine, but the daily choices we make.

My eyes feel closed many times as I feel my way down the hall. But isn’t that the lesson? Maybe we should close our eyes sometimes and feel the room and “see” our path.

My tax clients will continue to surprise and challenge my perception. And my yoga students will continue to reach for their toes. Both processes of servicing mankind are uniquely different and yet the same. They both require that I observe and question but not assume. It is to be both the teacher and the student at the same time.

January has been a gift and I am grateful.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dave is Coming to Florida!

Whoppee! As we round the corner into 2007 I am sooooo excited to say that a guest is coming to Florida. David Romanelli is just a chill guy that loves chocolate, wine, and yoga. What more could a person need? As the time draws closer I will post more info. But to get started, check out his site... www.yeahdaveyoga.com

Be Well

Tis the Season

I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included. - Bernard Manning

The holiday crazies have set in for most of us, myself included. I just wanted to give pause and remind myself what it is all about. Regardless of our religious backgrounds, the end of a year heralds a time of reflection, family, feuds, reconciliation, surprises, and disappointments. Emotions are high and fluctuating. Through it all I hope the common thread that connects all of us remain intact. Our humanity and spirit allows us to feel and to entertain these thoughts and feelings.

My wish is that we all acknowledge each of our own essence and its reflection on this world. I hope our human nature rises to the occasion and that peace and tolerance rules while pettiness and greed is allowed to wither.

Let us all give thanks for what is special to us. Each of us governs our own decisions; what we accept as truth and what we acknowledge in this life. I’d like to entertain the thought of giving more than what is expected and showing those we love how precious they are.

I wish you gentle reader health, prosperity, and the blessings of a close circle of family and friends.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Pose

Then there's the time a lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?" The stock boy replied, "No ma'am, they're dead."

Oh what a fantastic yoga weekend it was! I hope everyone had a chance to rest and enjoy what the season is all about. For me it is family and movement. Black Friday for our household consisted of the girls and I going to Barefoot Yoga and taking a gentle cleansing class with Scott Feinberg. The Barefoot Yoga Studio http://www.thebarefootyogastudio.com/ is just around the corner from our home and is a lovely space with dimmed lighting, a place for your belongings, and a simple environment conducive for serenity. I have taken class with Scott before, and he holds true to his flavor. Scott’s low voice resonated with comfort and acceptance. I had intended on having my daughters hang out and read while class was in session, but he invited them to participate. He encouraged my girls and joked with them sporadically throughout the 90 minutes and they had the benefit of stretching with mom while practicing the art of self acceptance. The next day I went to a seminar held by Bryan Kest. http://www.poweryoga.com/ For the second year now, Bryan came to Tequesta and held a morning seminar. Bryan was invited here by a local yoga instructor and friend, Laura Cole. The first hour was a dialogue from Bryan about his perception of yoga and how his practice has evolved. After that came a complete 90-ish minute practice that was sneaky hard to do considering each move was very basic, i.e. - standing forward bend, half moon, side angel. Any one of these poses start to become challenging once they are held for any length. My muscles started shaking towards the end of class and I felt as though the time flew by. I went to Bryan’s seminar last year, and it seems Bryan continues to mellow and flow. And he also continues to rhyme. His class could be compared to a Haiku placed to music. I enjoyed his sense of devil-may-care and humor however, and will go to his class again next year. Finally yesterday since the weather was rainy and it felt like a home day, the girls helped me make split pea soup while we went through old toys. We ended the afternoon practicing yoga to a Mark Blanchard video, “Power Yoga”. The video is 90 minutes long with the traditional sun salutations, plank positions and twisting sequences. It is very good after hearty meals to massage the internal organs a bit and perform some "house" cleaning. Peppermint tea also felt pretty darn good on the old belly also.

Speaking of twists, let’s talk turkey. Scott led us into a wonderful variation of “thread the needle”. Sitting in an upright position, start by bending one leg and placing it along side your body, like a runner’s stretch. The opposite leg is then bent in and placed in front of the body like you would in pigeon pose. Ideally, both knees are bent in the same direction. One leg is directly in front and the other bent along your side. Once you are ready, reach with the hand on the same side of your bent legs across the front of your body, and around to the back of the room, palm facing up. The opposite arm is bent, the hand is braced firmly on the floor, and eventually the shoulder of the reaching hand/arm should rest on the floor gently as well. It is a very intense pose, a great twist, and if done properly, you should feel a stretch along your side, psoas, and mid to low back. So nice.
The past few days were perfect. I hope the weekend manifested for you gentle reader in line with your intentions and blessed.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Give of Yourself

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose “-Hada Bejar

Seva Sunday

Sunday was a great day this past weekend. Scott Feinberg, a local instructor, heads up a monthly meeting called “Seva Sundays”. The premise is to take your yoga practice off the mat and to give selflessly. One Sunday we planted trees in the Everglades Park. Another Sunday the “Karma Krew” headed up to a local foster home to interact with the children and host a yoga class for them. Each month Scott takes us in a different direction of gifts from the heart. The experience stays with you and puts a positive energy out into the universe. This past Sunday was a surprise. Everyone showed up for a pot luck luncheon picnic, hosted by “The Barefoot Yoga Studio” http://www.thebarfootyogastudio.com/ down by the beach. The vibe was positive and light. Instructors from Barefoot yoga and fellow yogis chatted and laughed. After relaxing a bit and mingling everyone gathered together in a circle so the surprise could be revealed. This month the giving was to originate from everyone individually. For the same amount of time a yoga session lasts on the mat, we were to disburse and perform random acts of kindness. The act could be anything, from pushing shopping carts at the local supermarket, to picking up trash on the beach, to giving someone a friendly nod and wave. After the parameters were given and all questions were answered, the group stood up and disbursed in small units. I stood up and decided to go it alone to try and internalize and reflect on the potential deeds. What the heck was I going to do? I scanned the horizon and saw people biking, running, flying kites, and, sweating. It was hot. And muggy. And people looked thirsty. So I hiked over to the market and purchased a pack of bottled water. Then the fun began. “Excuse me,” I approached, “would you care for bottled water?” One question, many different responses. Most of them positive. The majority of people were touched and visibly happier. Some were skeptical and wary. I tried to approach people that I wouldn’t normally connect with in my daily travels. It was a liberating feeling. Doing good exponentially feels good. And the feeling stayed. Today as I type the warmth I felt about my fellow man has lingered. We are warm blooded creates that desire positive attention, love, and a feeling of belonging. And for a few moments yesterday I was able to belong to many different lives. To see the eyes of people light up and smile was the best gift of all.

Scott hosts Seva Sunday’s on an ongoing basis. I highly recommend this monthly act of selfless service. Many thanks go out to The Barefoot Yoga Studio for hosting the event. I cannot wait to take a class at the studio; the teachers were spiritually connected and socially aware. It was a great day. Namaste.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How is your yoga practice?

Has is been a fruitful week so far, or has the time bandit made away with precious moments absconding towards the distant horizon with a blink of the eye? A thought comes to mind of the “Sisyphean task” where the mythological King Sisyphus rolls a rock up a hill only for it to fall down just short of its destination. The vision personifies vain labor. There is Sisyphus struggling under the weight of the boulder, veins protruding in his neck, sweat rolling off his brow, muscles bulging and twitching with intent. It sounds like a yoga class gone wrong. According to Greek mythology Sisyphus was a bad man in life, stealing, cheating, tricking, and generally creating bedlam and mayhem in his path. The location of the hill is Hades and according to the story, he still is pushing and sweating today. It makes a person think twice before considering any type of deviant behavior.
To labor in vain is deviant behavior. Not honoring our bodies and respecting ourselves enough to move through life thoughtfully and aware is tragic. So much can be gained from conscious living. Alternatively the opportunity cost of ignoring the moment is priceless. Those of us not familiar with the term opportunity cost, it is another way of expressing the idea of placing a value on an opportunity foregone. For example, if I choose to sleep in rather that take a yoga class, my opportunity cost would be the value I place on the session missed. Value is perceived by each individual differently. Sometimes its worth is not appreciated until much later. Making a sound practice a priority will pay back exponentially through greater awareness, focus, and acceptance. The physical strengthening comes as another benefit as well.
A suggestion for today is if you cannot make it to a studio, try practicing at home. Here is a list of some of my favorite instructors who have made quality videos, which, like everything else, is to be taken objectively. They are options, nothing more, nothing less.

Baron Baptist
Beryl Bender Birch
Brett & Ravi Singh
Bryan Kest
Doug Swenson
Eion Finn
Max Strom
Paul Grilley
Seane Corn
Shiva Rae

Today make it a quality day. Feel your body as it guides you along and live every moment with conscience intent. If that seems exhausting initially, give yourself 5 minutes and call it meditation. Eventually every moment will become mediation in movement. Wonderful.

Make a difference and live to your potential. Have a swell day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What do you see?

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you have read down a few posts it's fairly easy to note that I love to sit back and muse about the why's and how's of life. Who, what, where, and when is just as fascinating and mind blowing. To sit and ponder over situations and struggle with understanding the "bigger picture" is a source of frustration and then pleasure when the spark finally happens. It is a joy being exposed to the wisdom of my peers. Peers can be the very young, i.e., my daughters, to the not so young, i.e., my mom and dad. My daughters share their insights which are clear and free of judgment. I pray they hang onto their convictions and council them to "work on your insides and the beauty will shine through". My elders have much wisdom to share, through personal experience or through insight softened by living life. Just like the potter's clay, great hands reach down and smooth out our intentions, create depth to our soul, and finely seal out the gaps and bumps of failures. What is left is a piece of art unique, glorious, and complete. As Michelangelo once responded to the question of how he created such lifelike sculptures, his response was that he just cut away what didn't belong on the already completed block of stone.

What can we as a human being do to help the process along? Take time out for ourselves. My yoga practice is anywhere from 15 minutes in the morning to 2 hours of sweating in the afternoon. The common denominator here is that my practice is consistent. I try. And wake up the next day and try again, for as long as I can allow.

Imagine for a moment you are focusing on a large blank piece of white paper draped in front of your vision. What do you see? Right.
Now, image that same piece of white paper with a small black dot in the middle. What do you see? Black dot! Black dot! Black dot! Or, as Austin Powers said in Goldmember, Moley Moley Moley! I wonder what my daughters would say. Or my parents? Does life teach you to focus on the black dot? How about lifestyle? Personality? Is it the angle that you are staring at the paper? What about poor eyesight? Is the solution as something as simple as taking a step back, or as complicated as changing a personality that is wired as a pessimistic detail oriented perfectionist? OH I could marinade on this for hours.

What is the point (dot), right? I'll take a stab. The point (dot) is (this better be good) nothing. That's right, nothing. It is mental acrobatics to broaden the awareness and to allow for this moment a pause of expectations or labels. Seeing through all eyes. How fun. And that is yoga. Just be. Namaste.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Transcend Yoga & the Karma Krew

Scott Feinberg has taken on a noble idea of encouraging and giving back to this great place we call home. Not only do these positive actions and deeds inspire other deeds, but they also allow the soul to breath in some goodness. Once a month anyone who would like to join can gather and perform a variety of programs from planting trees in the northern most part of the Everglades, to painting homes for people who cannot. These selfless acts of giving are opportunities that allow us to take our yoga practice off the mat and into our existence. www.transcendyoga.net

About Me

  • I'm Heather
  • From Florida, United States
  • Graduated from Florida Atlantic University BS in Business. Certified Public Accountant. Mother of 2 daughters.
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