Meditation: I Meet Myself With Kindness

guest post by Irene Jones

How does your meditation practice look and feel? We’re highlighting stories of meditation in everyday life to help de-mystify this life-changing practice and share simple meditation techniques with those just getting started. Share your experience in the comments or by email, info@yogaonesandiego.com

woman in sundial pose by oceanThese days, my meditation practice is me waking, taking my time, checking in with my emotions, my physical self, and my breath (when I remember, because there is a tendency for the cogs in my brain to start gaining momentum pretty quickly.) I do a little yoga in bed. Nothing strenuous, a few yummy stretches, cat cows and twists and neck attendance to loosen up any stiffness.

I brush my teeth, drink some water, and soon enough I sit comfortably on a cushion facing my window that opens out towards spaciousness and the natural elements. Just before this, I light some incense. I sit nice and tall, roll my shoulders back and lift my heart, starting with a good posture. Of course, it relaxes as I meditate and from time to time, I gently reset the weight in my sitting bones and lift the crown of my head.

Grounding first, I encourage my lower body to be heavy and my pelvic floor to relax. I check in with the Manomaya Kosha, the mind sheath, or how we process our thoughts and emotions. I rest here for a while scanning my entire body head to toe.

I check in with my breath and follow it with my awareness until I get distracted and then I gently bring my awareness back to my breath again.

Most importantly, for me these days, in my meditation practice is opening to my emotional self, so I feel-in. I ask myself, “How am I feeling?” “How am I?” and I patiently wait and open to my experience as it unfolds. I meet myself with kindness and permission for whatever is there and for whatever wants to come to my attention. I hold the sensations of my inner experience in a very sacred and tender embrace. This is my practice.

I rest here for as long as I like. I can then move on to my mental space, check in, honor my mind and all that it does for me and for all its potential. I ask myself, “What would peace feel like in this moment?” I rest in patience for a sense, if it comes to me; if I can cultivate it this morning, if not, no judgement. I rest in the light of my own awareness. Every day is different. 

I especially love when I can get outside early in the morning, when it’s quiet so I can meditate in nature; I’m not sure if there is anything more lovely. Maybe I’ll do some yoga or qigong too. I am blessed to have gained these skills over the years, practicing on and off, making a gradual home for my expanding awareness and my inner peace.

Meditation in itself is not a difficult thing to do – however, to commit to a daily practice, even if just for a few weeks or months can be challenging. Though the rewards are worth it. Meditation can make a huge difference to how we approach ourselves and others; gifting us with opportunities to experience space and patience and self-acceptance while in relationship, it is a fantastic teacher.

Ultimately, we are listening to our own inner teachings and wisdom. I recently heard, that if we can think of it like brushing our teeth, then it will be an easy habit to begin. Five minutes every day is all you need. For me, it depends on how I feel, 20 minutes, sometimes longer, sometimes less, and sometimes I incorporate meditation into my daily activities themselves. Just being present and mindful in each moment is a practice in itself.

Advertisements
Posted in Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Meditation Spot

by Laura McCorry

Walney Pond, Chantilly, VA

Walney Pond

When I think about meditation, I think about sitting down someplace like this: quiet, peaceful, with yellow butterflies (the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) flitting from blossom to blossom.

But being Mama to two little ones, I don’t always get to sit down when I meditate.

Sometimes meditation is simply the awareness of my own breath, breathing in, breathing out. Answering a question about turtles. Bringing my focus to the warmth of the sun on my back. Feeling a small fist close in a vise around my index finger as we walk further along the path. Breath in, breath out.

Even if I had arrived to this spot without the children, who both pull me away and bring me back to the present moment, the world interposes itself.

I can hear the rumble of a backhoe across the street, and the rush of traffic on a major road just on the other side of the park. I stay focused on the butterflies, and the dragonflies, but then come the bees, and the mosquitoes, and the ticks.

It’s hard to welcome it all in, to simply brush away the undesirable (and sometimes it’s scary). But this is the practice – of both meditation and life.

It’s not just quiet and butterflies, it’s also noise and chaos and the wide kaleidoscope of living things all sharing the same living earth and life-giving sun. Breath in, breath out. Can you see that it and we are all one?

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

Posted in Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga One at the San Diego Festival of Yoga

What better way to experience community and inter-connectedness than by practicing yoga alongside hundreds of other wonderful humans at Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego? We had an absolute blast and we can’t wait to participate again next year!

Yoga One at the Festival of Yoga

Festival of Yoga, downtown San Diego

Michael and Amy Caldwell

Posted in In the Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Yoga Poems by Amy Caldwell

AMNESIA

Once again
I’ve confused rigidity for strength,
domination for embodiment.

I’ve missed opportunities for appreciation
for acceptance
for love.

We know in our minds.
We feel in our hearts.

And yet we forget.
We get lost,
confused.
Amnesia of the spirit.

What if the only purpose of life
is to communicate love?
Through our breath
Through our body
Through our thoughts
Through our words
Through our actions
Through our relationships
Through our life
Through our being

Begin again.
Every day.
Every moment.
Every breath.
A chance to wake up.

*****

BELIEFS

How do they form?
How do they shape and filter
the way we view ourselves,
each other, the world?

We look to some beliefs
to help guide positive thought and action,
such as Ahimsa (non-violence),
or a vision of sameness,
to see ourselves in others,
or to (radically) love ourselves…

But perhaps any belief
comes with a small weight,
what we should be or do.

Maybe the next step
is to let go of the belief.

To realize that we already are the same.
We already are love.
We always have been.
We don’t have to think it,
or believe it,
we can just be it.
We
Are
It.

Posted in Music + Art, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yoga One in 3 Words

We asked you, our students, to describe Yoga One using just 3 words and your lists blew us away! We are so proud and humbled, encouraged and challenged, and overall feeling the LOVE!

Thank YOU for making Yoga One a welcoming space for all to enjoy the benefits of yoga and community. Namaste!

Yoga One word cloud

Posted in Around the Studio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep OM Trucking: Featuring Missy DiDonato

Do you take your yoga with you when you travel? 

Our Yoga One family has spread to all corners of the globe and we’re excited to share some of their adventures.

Missy is Yoga One’s OM (Office Manager). She’s the big smile and warm spirit that greets you from the studio’s office nook. Missy is the hub that connects all the parts. Here she is delivering the opening remarks for the Festival of Yoga, with the primary class being led by Yoga One’s own Amy Caldwell. Not long after Missy inspired the crowd of yogis, she dropped the mic (figuratively not literally). But either way she rocks! \m/

The next Festival of Yoga is scheduled for June 23rd, 2019 at the Waterfront Park. Click here to register for this FREE event!

No matter where you go, you can Keep OM Trucking with Yoga One! Visit Yoga One at 1150 7th Avenue to get your own hat and while you’re there, join us for class. 

Posted in In the Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have You Ever Considered Yoga?

fiction by Laura McCorry

Carl sat on the crinkly paper of an examining table waiting for his doctor. He kicked his feet and glanced around for a magazine. As a grown man, he felt ridiculous when his feet didn’t touch the floor. Carl was there for his annual check up, something his wife (and his health insurance) insisted on since he turned fifty.

He took a deep breath and let it out, slow and controlled. The practiced measure of that breath and the peace that followed marked a groundswell of change in Carl’s life from the year before.

A year ago, Carl had sat in the exact same spot, not knowing what to expect, feeling irritated that he had to take time out of his busy work day to be there.

A year ago, Carl had expected to hear that everything was fine, that he was a marvel of health despite the fact that he rarely exercised and regularly indulged in rich food and drink.

A year ago, Carl’s doctor told him that unless he made significant changes, he would need to take daily medication and adjust his expectations for his future quality of life.

Looking back, Carl could see the signs. But at the time, it was too easy to justify the way he was feeling. His back hurt because he wasn’t twenty years old anymore. Lots of people complained of indigestion. He carried some weight around his middle, but so did nearly all of his colleagues the same age as him. If it was normal, it couldn’t be that bad, he reasoned.

Despite telling himself it was a normal part of aging, Carl didn’t like the way he looked in the mirror. And every time he lay down at night, the aching muscles in his back would start to relax a bit which ironically made them ache even more. Laying next to his sleeping wife, he knew deep down that there had to be something more he could do.

It was that routine visit to the doctor that opened his eyes.

“What do you do to move your body?” Dr. Beamer asked, looking Carl in the eye over the rim of his glasses.

“I throw a tennis ball for the dog in the backyard,” Carl joked to avoid the question. He moved through his life with a minimum of movement, from his bed to the breakfast table. From his car to his desk. From the dinner table to his recliner. From his recliner to his bed.

“What have you tried before?” the doctor’s gaze hadn’t flinched, bless him.

“I used to play basketball with some buddies,” Carl offered.

Dr. Beamer nodded his head. “I’m not saying don’t try it, but go easy. Basketball at your age, after a long hiatus, can be hard on the knees.”

And then he said the fateful words Carl had never expected to hear:

“Have you ever considered doing yoga?”

No, Carl had never considered yoga. In his mind, yoga was something his wife did. But that evening, when Carl told his wife about the doctor’s suggestion, she didn’t tease him or gloat. Instead, she simply messaged him the online schedule for Yoga One, the studio in Downtown San Diego where she’d been practicing for the past five years.

Carl looked at the schedule and thought about his week. Fridays were pretty easy, he could often take a half day or work from home. He scanned the list of classes and instructors and saw one that popped out at him: Level 1 and 2 Flow with Michael Caldwell.

He borrowed his wife’s yoga mat and changed at work into a t-shirt and a pair of lounge pants. Carl felt nervous. He didn’t want to be noticed as new.

Even though he arrived early, there were still quite a few people already picking out spots in the bright upstairs studio. At the front of the room, a tall man in a t-shirt and comfortable pants talked and laughed with the regulars.

“Hi, I’m Michael,” the man introduced himself. He asked if Carl had any injuries or questions and they chatted briefly about the Padres. Carl didn’t know exactly what he had expected from a yoga teacher, but he felt reassured and intrigued.

The yoga class was harder than Carl had expected. Somewhere along the way, he’d gotten the idea that yoga was mostly sitting on the floor stretching and lying down relaxing. Not in this class! These people were moving and sweating and working hard.

There was a lot that Carl couldn’t do, but instead of discouraging him, he only wanted to try harder. Every time Michael guided the class into a difficult pose, he acknowledged it and encouraged each student to stay and breathe or back off and rest. By the end of the class, Carl was beginning to feel as though the yoga was more about what was going on in his own body instead of what the other bodies in the room were capable of doing.

It only took one class and Carl was hooked. At first he was doing yoga at his wife’s studio for his health. Before long though, Carl knew he was practicing yoga for himself. He loved the way it challenged both his strength and his stillness. It was no longer his wife’s studio, Yoga One had become like a second home, a place where they both found friends and community.

There was a knock on the door and the doctor walked into the examining room.

“Hi there, Carl,” Dr. Beamer looked up from a clipboard and raised his eyebrows as he smiled at Carl. “You’re looking good!”

“I feel good,” Carl replied with a proud smile.

“I bet,” said the doctor. “Your chart says you’ve lost some weight and, this I can’t believe, you’re an inch taller than last year. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

They discussed how to manage some of the health problems Carl was still experiencing but he was relieved to hear that the focus had shifted from management to prevention. Yoga hadn’t cured everything that was wrong, but it had pushed Carl into a long-lost relationship with his body. Now it didn’t matter so much what he looked like, it mattered how he felt — and Carl felt better than ever.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

Posted in Yoga Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dive Into the Details – How To Practice Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III)

Expand and explore your yoga practice with master teacher Amy Caldwell of Yoga One.

Yoga is an experiential process. A regular practice can help you develop a better connection with yourself, others, and the present moment. Yoga can help reduce stress, anxiety, and bad habits. Yoga means union. At Yoga One we strive to connect mindfulness, breath, and action.

These step by step instructions will safely guide you into and out of this yoga pose. We offer precise alignment cues to cultivate conscientious movement and to keep you safe, so  you can refine and benefit from your practice and the subsequent understanding for a lifetime.

Throughout our internationally acclaimed Yoga One Teacher Training Course, we dive further into the details to inspire and assist those individuals looking to take their practice to the next level and for those wanting to share the joys and benefits of yoga with others.

Warrior III PoseWarrior III – Virabhadrasana III

Benefits:

  • Strengthening, especially for the abdominal, back, leg and gluteus muscles
  • Challenges and improves balance and coordination

Foundation and general alignment:

  • Standing foot: Three points of foot grounded.
  • Standing leg: Muscles engaged, including glutes. Kneecap lifted and tracking toward middle toe. Bend knee if needed – check engagement and tracking.
  • Lifted leg: Muscles engaged, the foot flexed or pointed (different effects).
  • Kneecap points downward towards the floor – inner thigh firm and lifted toward the sky.
  • Neutral pelvis (in all three planes). Firm outer hips.
  • Strong core.
  • Torso lengthens evenly on all sides.
  • Shoulder blades hug onto the back ribs – widen collarbones
  • Arms extend straight alongside the ears, palms facing one another
  • Ears are between the upper arms, face is parallel to the earth
  • From pelvis, expand out equally in all directions
  • This pose is Tadasana or Supta Padangusthasana done horizontally

Common problems and misalignments:

  • Most at risk: Standing leg knee and hip, lower back, neck
  • Weight imbalances at the base
  • Hyperextension / misalignment of the standing knee – OK to keep standing leg bent with lifted leg straight
  • Hip of lifted leg flares out to side with knee and foot turning out
  • Excessive curve in low back – lack of core engagement
  • Low back rounded with tailbone tucked
  • Upper back overly rounded
  • General lack of engagement to the midline

Contra-indications: Weakness, poor balance, knee problems, low back problems, balance issues, practice with caution if you have high blood pressure

Modifications:

  • Hands on the wall or chair (fingertips on two blocks)
  • Entry from Tadasana or Virabhadra 1
  • Bend standing leg. Easier to maintain muscular engagement and neutral pelvis
  • Teach shape of pose lying on back, bottom foot at wall or on all 4’s with one leg lifted

Variations: Arms out to the side, back, Anjali mudra, or hands on hips

Enhancements: In version with arms forward, face student, have them press forearms down onto adjuster’s arm and tone belly, or adjuster stands on standing leg side, hip to hip with student, then squeezes in hip of lifted leg hip for stability.

Prep posture: all fours, with one leg up – press shin down, adjuster resists, lift low belly to find neutral spine.

Posted in Teacher Training, Yoga 101 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beginner’s Yoga: Top Tips for Starting Out

guest post by Wendy Swanson

Yoga, for many of us, can feel particularly intimidating, especially if we follow any “famous” yogi on social media and see lots of pretzel poses done flawlessly, in full makeup and expensive clothing (by the way, this is not really what yoga is all about and most of us do not look like that).

The best tips for beginner yogis

To help ease beginner angst, below are some tips on starting a yoga practice outside of our own homes:

  • Bring your humor to the mat and leave your perfectionism and self-critical parts at home. If I’m feeling particularly self-conscious I remind myself that people are usually more concerned with themselves than with me. I’m super important to my Mom but not the stranger on the mat next to me.
  • Try at least 5 different classes and 2 or 3 different studios/communities before deciding whether yoga is or is not for you. There are lots of flavors of yoga these days. There is yoga that is slow and meditative and there is yoga that is fast and sweaty and everything in between. Find out what is best for YOU.
  • Identify 2 or 3 of your personal goals around yoga and then talk with the teacher or desk staff. They can help steer you in a direction that matches your needs.
  • Nitty Gritty Pro-tip: no shoes in the yoga room & wear comfortable clothing that stays put when you bend forward (ie you may not want your shirt coming up over your head)
  • Let the teacher know if you are pregnant, have been injured, or have any health issues that they should know about to keep you safe. They are trained to give modifications and will do their utmost to make certain your class is an enjoyable experience.

Overcoming beginner’s resistance

Some other “fun” demons that sometimes rear their ugly head are resistance, doubt and second guessing. Think back to some of the bigger moments and decisions in your life and I bet you will find these guys hanging out. Recently I went on life changing retreat and for weeks leading up to the retreat I thought about backing out. My resistance to change and doing something new showed up in the form of: “I don’t have the money, so I should cancel”; “My family really needs me, so I should stay home”; “My business is super busy right now so this is really not a good time. I should cancel”. There are parts to me and to you that want us to stay small, play it safe and never ever change. These parts stem from aspects that have experienced hurt and pain in our past. They are valid parts of us AND we need to not have them running the show.

Living outside of fear

I find that when I allow these parts to have a voice and at the same time not run the show, I can make decisions from a grounded and centered place. I literally picture myself stepping into my higher/ spiritual self and asking that part, that truly has my best interest in mind, what I need to do. A vibrant, joyous and fulfilling life comes from paying closer attention to our higher self that promotes growth, self-love, connection and abundance. It was a game changer when I realized that my overly practical side was just resistance cleverly disguised. I encourage you to ask yourself “what part of me is talking right now?”

Connect to your higher self

The practices of yoga and meditation can help us know our higher self a bit better. Taking time to retreat can help us profoundly understand ourselves so that we can have the life we dream of. Our dreams can then move from imagination into reality.

I invite you to bravely stand up to the parts of you that hold you back and go take that yoga class or go on retreat. Your soul will thank you.

This piece originally published on The Art of Living Retreat Center

Wendy Swanson, L.Ac, E-RYT 200

Wendy is a healer, transformational leader, yoga teacher and licensed acupuncturist. She is the owner of Be Yoga & Wellness in Charlotte, NC; and is currently studying at Kripalu for her 500 hour yoga certification.

Posted in Yoga 101 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return to Yoga, Level Zero

fiction by Laura McCorry

DSC_0144Marcia had just eased her car into a parking spot when she looked out the passenger window and saw the sign which read “one-hour parking.” A few raindrops hit her windshield and Marcia, resisting the temptation to curse, let out a disgruntled sigh. One hour parking would not be long enough. Her brow furrowed deeper and her shoulders were rigid with tension.

Reluctantly, she turned the key in the ignition and circled the block again, then she circled one block north and found another spot in two-hour parking. Marcia was grateful she had intended to arrive well before the start of the Classic Yoga, level 1 and 2 class that afternoon.

If there had been a level zero class, Marcia would have signed up for that. It had been many years and two children ago that Marcia had last taken a yoga class. Her eyes were the same color, but since then, pretty much everything else about her body had seemed to change. She felt like she might as well be trying yoga for the very first time.

Marcia had called ahead yesterday and spoken to the Office Manager Missy, whose upbeat voice had assured her the class was absolutely beginner-friendly.

Marcia turned off her car a second time and took in a deep breath, but it came out in a ragged rush. The skies were grey and turbulent, and it looked like real rain was on the way. She hurried down the street and ducked under the awning when she saw the sign for Yoga One.

Inside there was a curious little opening in the wall (formally a dumbwaiter shaft) which revealed a closet-sized office. Within, a young woman with long, blonde-ish hair greeted her. Marcia recognized her voice right away.

“You must be Missy,” she said, feeling relieved.

“Yes, I am!” said Missy. “I’m glad to meet you, Marcia. I’ll be leading our class today.”

Missy welcomed Marcia into the studio and asked if she had any questions or concerns before closing the door. Then, Missy greeted the class and instructed everyone to take a comfortable seat on top of a folded blanket.

Marcia sat up as tall as she could, noticing immediately how much more effort it took to sit straight than to slouch. Even with the blanket lifting her a bit off the ground, Marcia could feel the tightness in her hips that kept her knees slightly higher than most of the other students.

They weren’t seated for long, just two or three minutes, yet when Missy’s voice guided the class to come to their hands and knees, Marcia sighed with relief. She worried the whole class was going to feel that hard.

“The most important part of yoga is your breath,” Marcia heard Missy’s calm and steady voice intone as she walked slowly around the room. “If you can’t breathe slowly, evenly, then you’re trying too hard. Try to find a balance between effort and ease.”

Trying too hard. Those words repeated in Marcia’s mind. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had said those words to her. Most of the time Marcia felt as though she weren’t trying hard enough.

Her boss was always expecting the completion of some project or another. Her two children always seemed to need supplies for an assignment they were supposed to turn in the next day. Her to-do list was never finished.

If her husband asked her for anything at the end of the day, even something as simple as getting him a glass of water from the kitchen, she sometimes felt herself bristle. Not at him, but at the feeling of being constantly needed. Marcia tried her best to satisfy all of their needs, but it was an impossible task because they always asked for more.

A balance between effort and ease. Did such a thing exist? Where in her life could she do less? This thought tumbled over and over in Marcia’s mind throughout the class. It made her feel intrigued, hopeful, and a little bit afraid. What if something didn’t get done? What if she wasn’t as needed as she thought?

Before Marcia knew it, one hour and fifteen minutes had gone by. The class was over. The students were seated again on the blankets with all eyes closed and hands pressed together before their hearts.

“Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out,” said Missy. “Thank yourself for making this time to connect mind, body, and spirit. Namaste.”

Marcia breathed in deeply and this time her breath flowed out long and smooth. Thank yourself. Another novel idea.

“Yes,” thought Marcia. “Thank you. Thank me?”

While everyone was putting away the props and rolling up their mats, Missy came over to ask Marcia how she felt. Marcia told her how she often held tension in her shoulders and that the class had been challenging, but that she did feel more relaxed than before.

Missy took the time to show Marcia a few simple poses she could do at work to ease strain in her neck and shoulders. Trying a yoga class after so long hadn’t been easy, but Missy’s friendliness, knowledge, and warmth had put Marcia at ease. As she gathered her belongings, Marcia thanked Missy again for the class and for her suggestions.

As Marcia walked back to her car, her heart felt lighter than it had in a long time. She would gladly leave a little extra time for parking if it meant she could feel this way once a week. Maybe next time she would take the trolley, or a ride-share. Maybe she could go to yoga more than once a week.

Turning the key in the ignition, Marcia nodded her head. It had absolutely been the right decision to take a yoga class that afternoon. It felt like the first step towards the kind of life she wanted to live.

As Marcia thought that perhaps a regular yoga practice could help balance effort and ease in her life, a smile spread across her face.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

Posted in Yoga Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment