10:48 pm

A Bountiful Harvest

While I have the title of “teacher” during these 8-month journeys, I simply have the privilege of sowing the seeds.  Those committed to the weeding, watering and tilling become my greatest teachers. And they bless me with a harvest that guides me through many days, many moons, and many seasons. Read More

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8:27 pm

Better Together

In January of 2013, my husband Rich and I took a leap of faith and opened Brown Dog Yoga with one small studio space. Read More

8:58 am

Drop the Labels

goodA friend of mine recently sent me a picture of a young woman that someone had sent him with the text “I have found your future wife. She is wife material.” The woman was radiant-pouty-lipped and raven haired, and she looked like she had just stepped off a New York runway (except for the fact that she was holding a microphone, which means she is probably talented, brave, and perhaps even famous!). Later in the evening, I found myself ruminating over what the term “wife material” even means. As I went about my evening routine (which probably does not fit into my friend’s definition of “wife material”) working on my computer, planning my week’s classes, plucking my eyebrows, and taking a long bath, I found myself filled with anxiety and questioning my value as a wife. I mean, I am a wife, because I am married, but am I wife material? So as this question continued to befuddle me, I googled, “what does the term wife material mean?” And bam! There it was, on Yahoo Answers. Nine responses to this all-important question. I won’t bore you with all the depth and emotional maturity buried (deep, way deep) within the answers but here is a summary:

“Perhaps because you're loyal, trust worthy and easy to be around on a daily basis.” (Are you kidding me? Easy to be around on a DAILY basis??)

“I would think it means you look like a woman they think they can trust but then again it might mean that you are good looking, has a great sense of humor and acts like a lady. You know what guys want don't you? A lady in the living room and a highly sexed woman in the bedroom.” (Does that mean no more farting during Justified?)

“In my experience, it simply means you did something that impressed him.” (I totally did that. On our first date. And never again.)

By this time, I’m feeling really good about myself and my role as my husband’s wife (Not). And before my anxiety got the best of me I decided I would just ask the question. While having dinner (prepared by Rich) I asked him “Am I a good wife?” The response I got was classic “my husband material”- first the look of confusion, then the sinking in, then pure laughter, followed by, “What on earth are you talking about?” I explained what I had been feeling since I saw the picture with the caption “wife material” and that I felt completely inept at this role because I fall short according to Yahoo.

Rich reminded me of something I teach to my students in classes and in teacher training, and to my children as often as they will let me. Drop the labels. Be good and kind. Make good choices. Be in service to others. Be humble and grateful. And most importantly, know deep within your being that you are ENOUGH. The labels that we place on ourselves tell us the stories of what we should look like and how we should behave in doing so. They are simply untrue conversations designed to keep us from living an authentically beautiful existence. And while it was important for me to share my feelings with Rich, do I really need him to affirm that I am living up to some standard that Yahoo has placed on my role as his partner? I think not. While words of affirmation is one of the “Five Love Languages” as made popular in the 1990’s by author Gary Chapman (and also include gifts, quality of time, acts of service and physical touch), I believe the most important thing is that we love ourselves enough to affirm ourselves- and THAT is something we should do on a daily basis.

Love Katrina

3:00 pm

Commitment

Commitment. Discipline. Hard words. Yet this is what yoga teaches us. Most of us won’t walk into a yoga studio and rock out a handstand. We have to commit to our practice. We have to have the discipline to come regularly, to show up on the mat even when we don’t want to. To be in the present moment in the class and give it our all.

This commitment is reinforced by the Brown Dog Yoga and Tailwind Indoor Cycling cancellation policy. I totally get it; really, I do. Commitment is SCARY. If you know me personally, then you know how much of a flake I truly am! You've had a long and stressful day, you're feeling a little sluggish and you don't particularly feel like holding warrior II or pulsing in a plié or 32 counts. So you hit cancel, if you happen to remember to cancel at all, and go about your newly revised day without a second thought. But don’t forget the student sitting on a waitlist ready to make the commitment to be in that class or an instructor who has put in time and effort to plan a class around a certain number of students.

As instructors, we are constantly plagued with waiting to start class because we aren't sure if you'll show up or if you made other plans. And then sometimes, we assume you aren't coming, lock up and start class, only to hear knocking on the door moments later. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a serious chronic problem. However, our family is growing. Huntington sees value in what Brown Dog and Tailwind have brought to our community and mores people are ready to commit to being part of it -- which is pretty amazing! So, this forces us as humans and a family to put forth a little more effort to communicate, plan, and be held accountable. Most of the time, cancelling four hours before class isn't a problem. But let's be honest, life happens! Lucky for our students, we as instructors understand that things come up and are more than willing to work with you but communication is key.

Personally, I think asking for this level of commitment is not only good, but completely reasonable. Hopefully, students will find value in committing to coming to class and being held accountable to show up! Because I can tell you first hand, waking up at 5am, heading to the studio to find everyone has cancelled, is not only disappointing to the instructor, but I would imagine is a bit more disappointing to your true self. Don't be afraid to commit, but even more importantly, don't be afraid to hold yourself accountable, follow through with your intentions, so when it's all said and done, you kept true to yourself.

Love and puppy kisses,
Miranda

3:00 pm

Make Good Choices

Today I was challenged to make good choices. Well, not me specifically, but me as part of the church congregation listening to the sermon. The challenge was to make good choices on how we respond to individuals -- how we treat others. Definitely an important issue, but for me, this went to a deeper level. Am I making good choices for my own growth?

The concept seems so easy. Make good choices. I do that! I choose to wear my seat belt; I choose to eat vegetables (although maybe not as often as I should); I choose not to do drugs. But these are easy choices for me -- so maybe I shouldn't be basking in the glory of making good choices.

When I dig deeper, I must admit I don't always make good choices -- because the good choice is often the hard choice. Sometimes the choices seem to be inconsequential, for example, not taking Rich's hot vinyasa class because it will challenge my practice. I mean really, will my life be forever changed if I never hold Vasisthasana (side plank) while Rich tells some insanely long story? But some of the good choices are much bigger, for example staying in a relationship with someone that doesn't help me grow just because it's comfortable or a habit.

You see many of the good choices are hard because they make us address a fear. Maybe it's a fear of failing (the reason why I don't go to Rich's class.) Maybe it's the fear of being alone (the reason why I stay in a relationship that doesn't make me a better person.) But nobody ever said the good choices were going to be easy.

Often we tell loved ones to "be safe" when they leave. Today, a wise woman said she often tells her children to "make good choices." There is a big difference between those two phrases. One asks you to make choices based on your fear. The other ask you to be bold and truthful with your life choices.

So today, I made a hard choice, a good choice. It was scary to take the first step -- and it hurt a little to do it -- but it was a good choice. Maybe this week, I will choose to go to Rich's class because I do not want to look back at a life full of "fearful" choices. (Or maybe not, because hot yoga -- ick!) Either way, I am choosing to live a bold and truthful life. Maybe by making good choices about how I treat myself, I can begin to make good choices about how I treat others. And while this world has many problems which I can't begin to change, my ability to show a little grace and love toward a stranger in this time of self-obsession and instant gratification could be the best choice I will ever make.

Wishing you a week full of good choices!
Cathy

3:01 pm

Technology Addiction?

UGH. I left my cell phone on my kitchen counter. This was not how I wanted to start my Monday. How would I share my brilliant random thoughts with my friends? How will I check to see how many activity minutes my dogs have today? How will I post clever and witty pictures on Instagram? What if somebody NEEDS me and I can't answer their text?

I know this seems like a silly issue, but as I sat in my office jonesing for just one tap on my phone, I realized I may have a problem.

Hello, my name is Cathy and I'm addicted to technology.

But as I continued to reflect on this issue (and I had plenty of time to reflect because I didn't have my phone to keep me occupied), I realized that it is possible that my addiction to technology is just some of my deeper issues coming out in a different way. Is it possible that I want to check on my dogs activity minutes because I have a tendency to worry about the people and things I love? I think about all the awful things that could happen when I'm not within them. (Like I can somehow control awful things from happening just by my mere presence.) I want to post on Instagram so I can then obsessively watch how many likes I have.....I"m sure this is in no way a manifestation of my insecurities or my desire to have people like me. There is no way that my habit of being available WHENEVER anybody needs anything has to do with my habit of wanting to "fix" things for people so they feel better, right?

Typically when we think of addiction, we think of drugs, alcohol, or maybe even food. These people are often relying on their addiction to escape their pain.But there are many other types of addictions that we never consider -- technology, tv, books, or even that obsessive need for just one more yoga class.

So my challenge to you is to really consider what your addiction is. And perhaps more importantly, what are you trying to escape or ignore with that addiction?

FYI, I went home to get my phone.... I couldn't take it anymore! But they say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Admission made! (Baby steps, people. Baby steps!)

Peace and Love
~ Cathy

3:02 pm

Chasing my Mistakes

I've been sad lately and it is an emotion I don't appreciate. As a rule, I'm not a sad person. I've always thought it is easier to be happy -- to smile, to laugh, to enjoy life. But I've been sad and I can't seem to shake it. I've been thinking about "doing" something to find happiness, to find a minute of joy, a moment of relief from the sadness. But something keeps holding me back -- this little feeling in my gut that "doing" was not going to end well. (I blame yoga and how it's changed my sense of spirituality and the divine for this little tickling of doubt that "doing" wasn't going to make things better. Stupid yoga.) Whatever the reason, I couldn't seem to let go and just act.

I was talking with a someone I've grown close to the other night (someone who has great faith and belief in the grace of God) about my feelings of discontent --about wanting to do something that I knew probably wasn't good for me in the long run. I asked him how he wrestled with his desires and his faith. He sat back and pondered for a moment before slowly saying, "I don't chase my mistakes anymore."

I've been sitting with that statement for a couple of days now and it continues to resonate with me. Most of the things I've chased in the name of being happy have ended up being a mistake. They've ended up causing me more problems or pain than the fleeting moment of joy or happiness I experienced during the chase.

Yoga has a Niyama, one of the personal code of ethics, of Santosha or contentment. This Niyama basically teaches to find contentment in your current situation in life. Not to go chasing mistakes, but to embrace the experience -- even the sadness. I'm trying to remember that without sadness you can't appreciate happiness. So I'm going to accept my sadness and recognize that this is an experience that will teach me a lesson and pass when the time is right. I'm going to practice Santosha and try to be content in this moment until it passes. More importantly, I'm not going to chase my mistakes looking for happiness in something or someone else.

I may never tell the my friend how impactful his words were -- because I hate it when he's right and I'm wrong -- but I already feel a little better following this path. Maybe, just maybe, I too will stop chasing my mistakes and allow the journey to happen.

Peace and Love ~
Cathy

3:03 pm

How do you Define Yoga

Larie Lynch shares how Yoga Teacher Training has changed how she defines "yoga."

What is yoga? Five months ago my answer would have been improving my flexibility and listening to chill music with the goal of looking better in a bikini. My answer now… completely different.

About ten years ago, I was golfing with a very petite girl who hit her golf ball twenty yards past my ball consistently. I had to know her secret! I asked her what it was, and she told me it was yoga. The next day I enrolled in my first yoga class. I was immediately hooked! The asana was awesome. I was improving my flexibility while getting a good workout in.

At the time, I did not even notice the intention at the beginning of class. All I was thinking about was what I needed to do after class was over. I needed to complete my shopping list…not get in touch with my mind and body! I had no interest in all the “mumbo jumbo” at the beginning and end. What was it even all about? What ego? What monkey mind? What self-love? I’m fine… I’m just here for the asana guys, you all have fun with all that hippie-kumbaya stuff!

Fast forward to January 2016. I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl on November 27th and she was becoming more and more amazing every day. However, I had not left the house in a month. Showers were hard to come by, cabin fever had set in, and the babymoon was officially over. I had to do something! I had to get out of the house a little bit so I could feel sane! Miranda suggested yoga teacher training to me and I signed up.

In the first session, I was asked two questions I had never considered before: “Who am I, and what do I want?” Oh no. I realized that yoga teacher training was going to be about more than just the asana, and I was going to learn a lot about myself (gasp)! Katrina’s questions seemed simple, but I had a difficult time answering them. Words, mostly nouns, flew out of my mouth. They sounded like the lyrics to the song “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover” by Meredith Brooks. I was not ready for this. Anxiety took over and filled my entire body. I found myself feeling very frustrated with the first question, so I moved on to the next question.

I asked myself, “What do I want?” As I continued this exercise over the next few months, my answers varied. I ended up settling on “I want to be happy and I want inner peace.” I’m happy for the most part, but there are times where I am not, and I let everyone around me know it.

From an outsider’s view, everything is fine and dandy in my life, but I constantly have this unsatisfying feeling that sits deep inside of me. I’m incessantly feeling like I need more, and the grass is greener on the other side. I’m always asking myself, what’s next, what can I do now? I had always attributed this attitude towards my ‘fierce athletic competiveness’ lol, but I soon realized I was just living in Larie-Land.

One day, I was harping on my partner, Wade, for something and brought up past events that had displeased me. He was just playing with the baby at the time, and told me to chill out and just enjoy the moment. He said, “you better enjoy Baby Violet right now, because she’s only this little once!” He then warned me that keeping my mind too much in the past and future instead of the present would lead to madness. Holy crap! His words hit me like a ton of bricks, it was like I had breakthrough! Everything came together, and I realized I need to begin living in the present moment! I asked myself another question, “What can I incorporate in my daily life to make living in the moment more attainable?” I found my answers through yoga teacher training, and those answers were gratitude and loving myself.

Gratitude
I was letting the things I lusted for in life get in the way of appreciating everything I already had. A TV advertisement or someone’s cool adventure on social media made me feel like my life wasn’t enough. In Yamas and Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes, “As long as we think satisfaction comes from an external source, we can never be content. Looking outward for fulfillment will always disappoint us.” These words really helped me understand how much gratitude could change my entire life. I was playing the “if only,” “planning,” and “regretting” game instead of the “thank you” game. I started becoming thankful for nature, people, memories, feelings, emotions, possessions, and a lot more. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been saying “thank you” so much, I don’t really have time to feel jealous or discontent.

Loving myself
Nobody can make me happy until I’m happy with myself first. Loving myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life (and giving birth was pretty hard). I am THE QUEEN of negative self-talk. This is not a title I’m proud of, but it is true. I constantly pick myself apart, physically and mentally. This does nothing positive for me. I am trying to stop; however, it has not been easy. It is almost like I am addicted to negative self-image. So I have been slowly weaning myself off of these negative thoughts. Every morning when I get ready for the day, I say a good thing about myself. Sometimes negative thoughts still fill my head, but I am trying… baby steps people!

I’m slowly figuring out who I am and what I want. I may not have all the answers, but as long as I’m asking myself those questions, I feel content, grateful, blessed, and pretty happy! Today my definition of yoga has changed. Now I see yoga as connecting my body with my breath, staying in the moment, letting go of the BS, while learning to appreciate this beautiful thing called life. The asana and chill music are still there, but now… so am I.

3:04 pm

Live Life Wide

It has been a rough couple of months. I recently lost my father (and I was the ultimate daddy's girl) and I have another very dear friend who is fighting cancer. Needless to say, I've been thinking about death a lot.

I keep trying to write this blog about death in my typical funny irreverent way.....it's just not coming. You see death sucks. (Well I guess I can't really say for the deceased, since I've clearly never died, but for the survivors -- it sucks.) Death leaves a gaping hole in people's lives. I miss my dad. And I don't want to lose my friend. But death is inevitable. So I guess what we control is the way we march towards it.

Obviously, I've explored a lot of different religious thoughts on death. Heaven, reincarnation, nothingness....again, I can't present facts here. I do have my own personal beliefs, but that isn't really the point of this blog. I can't take the suckiness of death away. So, instead I want to focus on how we live life as we move toward the inevitable.

Today I stumbled across a quote from Dianne Ackerman, "I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

WOW. Sure, given the option, I'd love to have a nice long life. But more importantly I want a life that is too full to fill a room. Not full of things, but of people, places, and experiences.

I try to focus on this desire when I go to my yoga mat. I use my yoga practice not to make my body smaller, but to make my life wider. I don't worry about nailing the perfect warrior or flying in crow. Instead, when I hit the mat, I attempt to look deep and explore the fears that hold me back. I allow myself to feel my emotions -- even those that hurt. I meditate on what would truly make my life WIDE. And hopefully, I find the courage to travel the path to the full life that I deserve.

It's not always easy, but my yoga is at its best when I live my life wide -- not just on my mat.

My wish for each of you is that your life is WIDE with stories of flooded campers, farts that smell so bad you have to bail out of the car, golf holes played with only the driver, and strip poker with your friends. Yeah, I know these stories mean nothing to you, but trust me the memories make for a full and wide life. Memories that will continue to make me smile and my heart fill wide even after people I share them with are gone.

Wishing you all peace, love and a big wide full life,
Cathy

3:05 pm

The Past is Done

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Are you practicing the Yama of Asteya or are you stealing from yourself? Cathy shares her story of practicing Asteya.

So yesterday I met a guy, a guy I could possibly be interested in seeing again. He isn't the point of the blog, but he is an important fact you need to get you TO the point of the blog. You see this guy is 49....and my mind couldn't comprehend this fact.

WHAT? I am old enough to be interested in a guy that is almost 50?!?! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

So now I'm starting to realize that I'm middle aged. Again, how did this happen? It also started a reflection on what I've done with my life -- and I got stuck in regret. Specifically what I've done to my body. You see I haven't taken the best care of my physical temple. Too much junk food, too little exercise, not to mention a few years (let's call them graduate school) of too much alcohol and too little sleep. Caffeine and I are best friends and my treadmill is my favorite clothes hanger.

I had plans, I was going to give up sugar and eat a raw diet by the time I was 30 (and 35 and 40 and.....) I was going to start weight lifting and running regularly instead of only during a couple months in the summer (which doesn't even happen anymore.) Even as recently as last month, I promised myself I would increase my active yoga practice. So now I'm sitting around thinking of all the promises I made to myself and how I have failed at them. I don't think I'm alone in this cycle, just a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who was dealing with the same realization of time passing and missed opportunities.

As I sat dwelling in my regret, I realized I as violating one of the guiding principles of my yoga practice....Asteya or nonstealing. (Honestly you could probably argue I was violating several of the Yamas and Niyamas, but for today, let's just focus on Asteya.)

Initially I thought I had this yama down because I NEVER walk into a store and take something without paying for it! BOOM! I'm golden. But the more I learned about Asteya, the more I realized that it is about more than actually TAKING something. It's about your understanding that you really do have all you need. Maybe it is hoarding or buying more than you need (ouch -- my shoe collection!) Or, just like wallowing in my regret, it is stealing from the present moment by living in the past.

By spending time worrying about what I haven't done, or even making crazy plans for how I will get healthy next week, I'm stealing from my time in the present moment. Instead of feeling guilty about the past, I could have been at a yoga class, cooking a new healthy recipe, or just enjoying the moment I was experiencing.

So maybe realizing I'm old enough to date a guy that is almost 50 wasn't such a horrible thing. It forced me to face my past and then let it go. You see, my past is my past. It's done. I can't change it. It only has the power to steal from my future if I let it. Your past is your past. It is done. I won't judge you on what you did and I hope you won't judge yourself either. THIS is your moment. What will you do to live, love, and find joy in it?

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