Tag Archives: yoga therapy

Happy Thanksgiving. (Be like the sponge)

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For some of us, gratitude doesn’t come so easily. Or maybe it’s not the gratitude itself, it’s just hard to receive the things that are offered or given. It’s kind of like the dried out sponge. When you try to wipe up some water with it, the hard sponge just pushes the water around. It can’t absorb what’s there. It isn’t until the sponge has a little time under the running faucet that the outer layers get soaked and expand. The water makes it’s way deeper and deeper until, eventually, the very center of the sponge gets to be pliable and soft and absorbant. After it’s soaked, it can be squeezed out and that’s when it becomes it’s most absorbant self. That’s the cycle. That’s what helps the sponge to be able to bend and flex and hold so much.

My wish is that each of us gets soaked with exactly what we need over and over again. That we get filled and nourished to our very deepest parts. When we are, as we are, we can offer and receive. We can bend and flex.

I’m filled up by this special community of readers, seekers, and students every week and I’m thankful for each of you. Blessings to you and your dear ones on this day of Thanksgiving.

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Start 2017 off right!

Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali 8-week Workshop

c60a222648d350f0e6a193b3146ee9e9The Yoga Sūtras is an ancient and fundamental text of Yoga. Even though it’s over 2,000 years old, the 196 aphorisms continue to be relevant to our modern day practice and life. In this course, we’ll dive into the second Chapter and right into the heart of the yoga journey, looking at what yoga is and what it helps us overcome. Through chant, discussion and practice, we’ll learn how to cultivate balance, clarity, and more meaning in our daily life.

January 12th – March 9th, 2017 (no class 2/2)

Thursdays, 9:30 – 11:00am

Private Studio, SW Austin, TX

$150* through 12/15

click here for more info and to register:
http://www.amandagreenyoga.com/workshops-special-events/

 

The sweetness (and discomfort) of being open

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IMG_8282There are all of these tender things happening in my life.

  • My girls are home for the Summer and with a slower and more relaxed pace, they get time to enjoying each other. And Dave and I are enjoying them.
  • The yoga therapy clients I see are sincerely doing their work. I can see that though it is sometimes very hard, they practice and are willing to stay with it. This is inspiring.
  • Honey, my grandpa, moved from independent living to an apartment where he can have more care. There’s so much I could say about this, but mostly, today, I’m touched by the way that Honey and my parents love, respect, and care for each other. It’s so special to witness.
  • The move has unearthed treasures from Honey’s life—photos of my dad and uncles when they were boys, special things that belonged to my great-great grandparents, pictures of my grandmother’s high school friends held in an envelope with a one-cent stamp and addressed with only my grandmother’s maiden name and the town where she lived at the time.   Touching things that were special to my relatives gets me every time.
  • I turned 40 this week.
  • My yoga practice these days is hard and that always leaves me tender and a little uncomfortable.
  • I just back from Nashville where I had the next part of my training, and now there’s a lot to digest.

I’m taking notice of how these experiences leave me feeling open and tender and vulnerable. It’s really good and really uncomfortable.  I have a tendency to not want to feel this way. My most practiced tactic is to stay busy and distracted until the stuff passes. But this time, instead of pushing through or forcing myself to keep going or work harder, I’m trying to slow down. I’m sleeping a little more. I’m saying, ‘no thank you’ to the many enticing things that I could do with my days. I guess I don’t want to miss any of this good stuff that’s happening.  I’m getting used to what 40 feels like and considering what it means to have these pangs of nostalgia or to be overcome by the profound mystery of aging. I’m enjoying the sweet ache of parenting my two young girls who will only be 8 and 12 for a little while and I’m grateful for the practice of yoga that makes so much of this possible.  What if it all leads to grace?

 

Piano lessons are worthwhile and an exercise in self-torture…

Here's a romantic evening shot of our sweet piano, and two of my mom's beautiful paintings.

Here’s a romantic evening shot of our sweet piano,

Do it well.

Do it with a good attitude.

Do it for a long time.

And you will become it.

Hazel and Nora started piano lessons a few months ago and it has been fascinating to see how they are each responding to the piano, the music, and a practice routine.  I’m watching their skills develop little by little each week. Hazel is a good student in all things. She keeps up with her work and doesn’t like to disappoint those that are counting on her. She also loves music. She practices, has a good attitude, and likes what she’s learning, which all help to make her a really good piano student. Nora, on the other hand, is not enjoying piano. It’s parental/child mutual torture to get her to practice even a few times a week. When Wes is here, she does her best to get him to talk about anything other than piano. He patiently keeps her on task. He might be a saint.

The girls have different attitudes about these lessons, but both are progressing. Nora is almost through her first book of songs and Hazel has moved on to some sheet music. Even though Nora is learning stuff and is getting better, there’s a notable difference (pun intended) in how much the music seems to be a part of each of them. Hazel likes it, owns it, and is really proud of what she has accomplished. Even though Nora is spending time at the piano, her real energy is going into avoiding the task. When she’s playing she’s really practicing wearing us down. On days we are very persistent, she focuses on cranking out the minimal amount of practice with as little effort and the least amount of attention possible. (True confession: As much as it annoys me, I can totally relate. I wasn’t much of a piano student and employed many of these tactics myself. )

Watching the girls learn this new skill makes me wonder about two things:

  1. What is my attitude when I practice yoga? Which kind of practitioner am I? Am I practicing with attention? Am I operating with a good and open attitude? And am I connected to what I’m learning? Or am I going through the motions but actually practicing  ‘avoiding what I’m really there to do’?
  1. Patañjali lays out the process of yoga and how we learn something new in Yoga sūtra 1.17 and it totally applies to piano lessons.

This sūtra says…

vitarka-when we first start piano, we have only a gross understanding of it

vicāra- as we practice, it becomes more subtle

ānanda- this process brings us joy

asmitā-rupa- eventually we know the piano so well that we become one with it.  We don’t have to think about correct posture or “every good boy does fine.”   It’s already there in our muscles and on the paper when we sit down.

anugamāt- It’s through this process over a long time that 

saprajñāta– our understanding of the instrument and the music that it makes, becomes a part of us. 

If we want to have more of something in our lives, then we need to spend time doing that thing. It’s not enough to merely go through the motions. We practice to have more of the kind of experiences we want and with an attitude that fosters a love of learning, ānanda. The experiences that help us to connect, earnestly and eagerly, to the things we want in our lives, are experiences that shape who we are and who we become.

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Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREATIMG0172

REAL LIFE. REAL TOOLS.

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th!  Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

Learn more at http://handson-retreats.com or contact me with any questions you may have.

Skepticism really isn’t that fun

Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra 1.25 tatra niratiśayaṁ sarvajña bījam

Here's a pic of my sister and my mom not buying whatever my cousin is selling on the other side of the table.

Here’s a pic of my sister and my mom not buying whatever my cousin is selling on the other side of the table.

For most of my life, I’ve been a bit of a skeptic. This peaked between the ages of 12 and 27. In my teenage years, I was afraid of looking dumb or seeming gullible so I wasn’t willing to accept most of what I was told. The stronger position seemed to be “Well, I don’t think so. That sounds crazy. That person might not be a reliable source,” or other vague arguments that allowed me to feel protected from the dubious world of misinformation. I didn’t want to be swept up into any trends or crazes and then have to be embarrassed when the social-jury deemed it ‘lame,’ and I didn’t want to feel duped when the new-fangled idea of the day was proven wrong. So, I just didn’t go along with much.

I remember getting into an argument about cutting boards with a friend who had spent two semesters in culinary school. We were at my grandmother’s house washing dishes after a really nice meal together and as we dried my grandma’s cracked and slightly moldy wooden cutting board, I said something like, “This cutting board is gross. My mom always uses plastic ones so she can put them in the dishwasher.” And my friend said something like, “Wooden ones are better. That’s what we use at school.” My defenses fired and instead of asking more or deferring to his experience I dug my heels in about the merits and clear superiority of plastic over wood. I argued about it for a long time. He said knives didn’t dull as quickly on wood. Wood had natural anti-germ properties. Yes, they require a little more care and attention, but it’s a natural material. I just kept insisting I was right and they were gross. The conversation ended and I left feeling like I won the argument but I also felt like a jerk. I didn’t even really believe plastic was better. I knew I was being annoying and not very nice but I couldn’t help myself. I was a dedicated skeptic.  (I’m still embarrassed as I think about this conversation, so thank you for letting me confess it here. Maybe now I can let this 20+ year issue lay to rest.)

I bring all of this up because I’ve come a long way. And I actually think that this piece of letting myself take in stuff without being afraid of getting duped or with so much skepticism is a big part of my personal growth and enjoyment of my life. Yesterday morning, I was sitting with my yoga sūtras notes imagining all the ways that YS 1.25 could feel true. Tatra there, referring to īśvara, the subject of the previous sutra niratiśaya – unlimited; without limits, sarvajña – all understanding bījam – seed. Instead of finding holes in the argument, I wondered what insight might come as I considered this very broad idea of Īśvara, a higher power. I looked for ways that I felt that power in my life. I wondered about the usefulness of allowing for the possibility that there is something bigger than myself and perhaps even a plan for me and my life. What does it feel like to consider something without limits? What’s the closest experience I’ve had to that? If there’s really an unlimited source of all understanding, do I have an experience of what the seed of that feels like?

These kinds of questions and this very personal exploration is an approach that feels so much better than arguing against stuff all of the time. It’s better, but it can also feel vulnerable to withhold judgment and stay open. There are times when asking questions and staying open is too hard and I go back to that old ‘strong and safe’ stance that goes along with judging, deciding, and dismissing, but life is definitely more interesting when I can stay open. It feels softer. I learn more. And, no doubt, it is much more pleasant to wash dishes with me.

Inside Pavilion1

Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREAT

Real Life. Real Tools.

August 31st to Sept. 5th, 2016

This 5-day retreat is specially designed to teach you the art of unlearning and letting go of old patterns that have long since lost their usefulness while also providing precious leisure time which allows these new skills and understandings to become more rooted in your daily life.

We teach YogaAyurveda and the Alexander Technique in a practical and meaningful way so that when you return home you will have useful tools to keep this new, balanced relationship going—not only within yourself but with everyone around you.

Carol P. Prentice ~ Amanda Green ~ Sydney Laurel Harris

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th!  Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

Learn more at http://handson-retreats.com or contact me with any questions you may have.

That thing we hate about our personality might actually save us one day

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I have two kids. When our whole family is out and people see how much Nora looks like Dave and Hazel like me, we often get the comment. “looks like you got one of each.” We laugh a little because if that observant, friendly stranger hung out at our house, there would be no doubt. Hazel is her own person, but she and I have a lot of the same tendencies and personality traits. You could say the same about Nora and Dave.

One of the things that Hazel and I share is sensitivity. If we get hurt, it hurts a lot. If we are sad, we feel it so deeply that it can be overwhelming. If someone in our presence is having a great/bad/emotional moment, we feel great, bad, or emotional right along with her or him. When I was a kid, I was labeled as moody.  I knew that my sensitivity could be hard on my relationships with other people, and it was also hard for me. At the time, I managed this sensitivity by ignoring it and by pretending to be different than I was. That didn’t work out very well for me so I’m trying my best to help Hazel develop a healthy relationship with this aspect of her personality – something I am still in the process of doing for myself.

I had an appointment with my yoga mentor this week and he asked about Hazel. He knows that Hazel is a special kid with a lot of sensitivity to what is happening around her. The question helped me to reflect on how this process is going for her, and to appreciate how good she is, even at her young age, at self-regulating. When she starts to feel overwhelmed, she usually knows what to do to get grounded again. She’ll take some space from a person or situation. She spends a lot of time alone, reading, listening to music, and especially drawing. If she needs it, she’ll come over to me for a hug and then stay there a while and I can feel her settling. Because she has ways of managing her emotional world and taking care of herself, she doesn’t struggle in the same way I did.  I really think she sees her sensitivity as a special part of who she is. I think she even appreciates it.

Just writing this makes me choke up because this is amazing to me. We all have things inside of us that are the difficult and wondrous gifts. The yoga sutras talk about the functions of the mind, the vṛttis, as kliśta akliśta (I.5). The same mental function can be helpful or not, just like the very same aspect of our personality can be great help in some situations or the very thing that gets us into trouble in others. When we know ourselves well and have a perspective that lets us accept and work with our personality traits instead of wishing we didn’t have them, it gives so much meaning to why we are who we are. Maybe this kind of acceptance and self-awareness even brings us closer to understanding what we are here to do, our dharma. Those are really lofty ideas, but for me, today, it boils down to this… I’m so grateful that Hazel can be herself and like her self.  I deeply admire the emotional intelligence she’s cultivating. And if I have some small part in helping her be able to do this, then I’m here to tell you, this motherhood thing I’m involved in is worthwhile and meaningful.  I’m grateful to be able to watch this magic happen.

Registration Opens soon! 


Ojai Valley Women’s Retreat:

Practical Transformation from the Inside Out

August 31st to Sept 5th, 2016

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 with Amanda Green and Carol Prentice


 

Spend five days in the beautiful Ojai Valley immersed in good company, gourmet Ayurvedic cuisine and the transformational teachings of Yoga, Ayurveda, Alexander technique.

*Private and double occupancy rooms available.

Peppertree Retreat Center, Ojai, California

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