Category Archives: motherhood

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?

 

What my camping trip taught me about yoga…

Camping!

Last weekend, I packed up the kids and the car and went out of town for a camping weekend. When the girls and I found the campsite, it was already amazing. Jenn and her girls had gotten there in the early afternoon and set up. She had coolers full of food by the picnic table, chairs around the fire ring, and hammocks swinging from the trees. We unloaded and settled right in. After Sloan arrived with her bags of food, folding table and another hammock it was like camping at the Hilton.

We spent the weekend visiting, singing, eating and laughing. Hazel dedicated some of her time to making a case for leaving early, but I didn’t give in. The kids braved the freezing cold swimming hole while Jenn and I sat in the sunshine and Sloan read her book in a hammock. Nora and the younger girls traveled to neighboring campsites making friends along the way. The kids floated sticks downstream. They peed in the woods…and all over shoes and pants. We still have some training to do in that department.

There was a quiet moment on Saturday afternoon when all campers engaged in quiet activities and I made my way to a hammock. When I got in, my body conformed to the sling shape and the fabric sides of the hammock nearly closed up around me. I was the delicious filling of a hammock soft taco.

With the sides of the hammock covering my peripheral vision, I could only see a narrow strip of the sky and the canopy of trees above me. In the few minutes that I was taco-ed up, I became more settled and calm. My eyes had a direction to go and something to focus on. I saw so much more of the trees and sky through this narrow opening than I did when everything was wide open.

It made me think about this thing of directing our attention – something that yoga helps us to be able to do. When my eyes weren’t attempting to take in the huge span of what I could see right to left and up and down, I felt different. When I let myself stay and my eyes be still, I  really saw the canopy of the trees. I watched and thought about only that, and I relaxed. Our senses seek stimulation, and each has its own particular ‘foods’—colors, noises, movement, and sensation. The senses wander around looking for this, but when the senses line up and follow the direction we choose for them it feels different. Less frenetic. More purposeful.

There’s a way we can create hammock tacos for our senses when we are wanting to connect to the special things in life. When we direct our attention and can be fully with an experience, our system feels different. Focus and attention feels good. When we are with our friends around the campfire and our senses are listening, feeling, and seeing that, then that’s what we get to take with us. That’s what we connect with and that’s what we remember.

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Registration now open!

Ojai Women’s RETREAT

AGY readers receive a $200 discount on or before May 15th! IMG0172

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

Enter the code *RENEW2016* in your registration form under questions and comments to receive your discount. (*cannot be combined with any other discounts)

Piano Lessons for my children… worthwhile or an exercise in self-torment?

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 

saprajñātah – 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.

*******

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.

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.

*******

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.

Goodbye Peru

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We leave Peru today. Hazel can’t wait to be home and asks the details of our itinerary every few hours so she has an accurate hour count till she’s back in her room. I think it might have something to do with how often I lean in to “sing” the sounds of the beautiful Andean pan flute in her ear. We won’t have to worry about pockets full of change because Nora stops to get her photo taken with every baby lamb, alpaca, and llama she sees, an opportunity gladly offered in exchange for a little propina, or tip. We could write our own guide book on the locations of all servicios higenicos, bathrooms, in historic Cusco. Nora has had some tummy trouble for the last 25 hours, though she isn’t bothered. We learned that she considers her digestive distress a rite of passage, referring to it as her “butt period”– a term that sent all of us into uncontrollable hysterics at the one fancy restaurant we’ve visited in Cusco.

The children have heard me curse more in the last week than in their whole lives. Dave says that’s what happens when I’m south of the equator. I have to laugh at myself because before I came my yoga practice was so consistent and I felt so good that I actually had a vision that I’d bring peace, love, and appreciation of all things to the South American continent. It hasn’t happened exactly like that. Last night, Hazel congratulated me on my first day of no cursing. This was premature because moments later this street dog ran out in traffic and narrowly escaped death by taxi. It was literally under the front of the car when traffic came to a halt. The s-word left my mouth and of course Hazel heard. We have some great memories and photos to take back with us.

Family Vacation

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I’m in Peru with my family, and I’m so happy to be here. I’m also grouchy. My digestion doesn’t know what to make of the ceviche, the weird fried park food, or the massive amount of fruit I’m eating. My body is complaining about the combination of airplanes and miles of walking. My sleep has been good, but it’s hot at night so my dreams are craaaazy. As a result of the state my system is in, the charms and delights of discovering another culture and country are annoying me. Dave says I’ve officially reached middle age.

In the yoga classes I teach, we’ll do something hard and then rest. It’s an opportunity to notice how easily we are able to adjust and shift between the variety of situations we find ourselves in. If we were just attempting 20 repetitions of utkatasana (they look a lot like squats), but now find it’s time to lie down and rest, can the heart rate, the muscles, and the mind let go of that effort and exertion and be with what is happening now? Can we move gracefully from situation to situation and be present with what is?

The longer I’m here, the better I am at remembering my perspective is influenced both by the state I’m in, the ways I care for myself, and what I choose to focus on.  When I notice what’s happening and take appropriate action, I can more easily enjoy what is in front of me. Today, I woke up and could peek in on my girls sleeping together in the same bed, cheeks pink from the warmth of sleep and yesterday’s sun. I appreciate the glimpse of my sister’s life in Lima—her office, her apartment, her grocery store. I get to hear the way she expresses herself in another language and spend time with some of the people in her life that are so special to her. There’s so much more, and the true gift of yoga practice is the expanding ability to choose what to focus on and to be with these special moments when they come.

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

Inside Pavilion1

 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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This is what real success feels like…

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Here I am doing the very important work of being a warm pillow for a sick kid. The best job ever? Maybe so.

Our household was hit with the double whammy last week. Nora had a stomach flu on Thursday and then Hazel came down with Strep throat on Saturday. I think I did as much laundry, sanitizing, and hand washing in one week as I have all year.

Dave was traveling so with the help of my parents, I was able to make all of my teaching commitments. The rest of my time, I made soup, snuggled, and delivered cool wet washcloths to hot little heads. I did manage to lure the girls outside on their respective sick days by making a comfy pallet in the grass so they could get some sun. I took this opportunity to do a little gardening project in what might have been the nicest weather all year.

Even though I was sorry that the girls were sick, I noticed something about myself this week. I was so clear about what I needed to do. I didn’t have any problem postponing my social commitments and setting aside the things on my to do list. Those decisions seemed to make themselves. I showed up for my clients and took care of the girls.  I so appreciated the real privilege of being a special person in Hazel’s and Nora’s lives – someone that can offer a little comfort when they feel crummy. I had the peaceful and satisfying experience of following my dharma.

But then…

The girls started to feel better and Dave got back from his trip. My role and my work shifted. Dave took over the cleaning and cooking and as I re-entered the world of email and appointments and phone calls left unanswered, I kind of freaked out. Sitting at my desk, I had a moment of exasperation and overwhelm and I started talking to myself outloud (never a good sign) exclaiming, “Ugh! I didn’t get anything done this week.”

What?! How can I gush about how truly satisfied, blessed, and grateful I am for the chance to care for my children and work with yoga clients then, mere hours later, return to the work of maintaining my very satisfying yoga teaching career, and feel like my week at home was wasted? How is it that when in this other framework of emails and appointments what I actually did for my the people in my life and how I felt about it doesn’t even count?

Big question, but here’s my take-away…

I would like to be as satisfied with all the work I do as I am taking care of my girls. I would like my actions and my time spent to be coming from this place of dharma, because I can see that it’s a qualitatively different way of being. I need to rethink how I’m approaching the “work” aspect of my life. I’m going to have to listen and follow from a different place – some place other than, if I stay busy and spend lots of my time emailing then I’ll be doing the work that will generate business and help me to be successfulReal success is that feeling I had with my girls. Just the thought of spending most of my life in that place, the place of dharma, gives me chills. That’s the kind of success I want…the kind in which my role is clear, important, and satisfying. Decisions come easily because priorities are in place. And the measure of a good week has everything to do with the people I served and nothing to do with the number of emails I responded to.

Maybe you have thoughts about this or you’ve found ways that help you stay connected.  I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

 

amanda green yoga

Dear subscribers,

You will receive this post in your inbox two times. Now and a little later.  DON’T WORRY! I’m not spamming you.  The updated https://www.amandagreenyoga.com is nearly complete and i’ll be testing my email subscription service to make sure it’s ready for you. (I’m so excited!).

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amanda