Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Engagement at Desert Botanical Garden

One of the best nights of my life happened at one of my favorite places in the Valley. Graham and I got engaged this month at the Desert Botanical Garden during Las Noches de las Luminarias. It was a night I'll never forget. The excitement continued when we admired the Chihuly exhibit together as an engaged couple.

This is the picture I took right before we got engaged. 

We watched an incredible performance by Porangui. I could feel the music in my bones. (Side note: It would make excellent savasana music.)


I couldn't have asked for a more perfect way to get engaged.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Yoga-Teacher Training: Week 13, Part 2

I didn't expect the final day of teacher training to be so emotional. It felt like every other day at first, starting with a class at the studio. Then one of my fellow trainees taught her class and it suddenly felt more real. The second class is what finally brought me to tears. My friend has come so far from the start of training (we all have) and it felt so amazing to be taking her class. She had a lovely voice, she made it fun and light at times, and her music was fitting. She shared so much of herself throughout class. I was moved to tears at the end as I realized she has found her voice. It happened again in the final class. I was so impressed with the final class and its message. (I was wowed by all the classes. I took every single class today, so I will be sore tomorrow, but it's totally worth it to get the full experience.) It hit me that we won't have this time to get this feedback and encouragement again in this setting.

Then it was time for graduation. We heard lovely words from three of our instructors, and I suddenly became emotional again. We each shared a bit about what we got from this experience. For me, it's been a life-changing journey. I signed up not even knowing if I wanted to teach, but I wanted to know what it was that made a certain yoga teacher so open, honest and vulnerable.  I've always admired that about her and all my yoga teachers. I've had difficulty opening up in my life, and this continues to be a struggle sometimes, but going through this experience has given me more courage to share more of myself and worry less about how others will receive it. One of the greatest gifts I've received through this has been a boost of confidence. My self-esteem was low before, so my intention for the past three months has been courage and confidence. Even when it's physically difficult for me to get the words out I have pushed myself to do it and be brave. I'm so glad I signed up for yoga-teacher training, not just for the new skills I have acquired but for the friendship, encouragement, challenges, and self-awareness. (There's also the added benefit of being good to my body.) I'm still processing everything that happened this weekend, so I'm sure I'll have more to share in the coming days and weeks.

A favorite quote that one of my yoga teachers reads often:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yoga-Teacher Training: Week 13, Part 1

I've been waiting for today for 3 months. It's the day four of us taught our 45-minute final practicum classes in front of one of our instructors. I've been working hard to prepare, running through my class almost every day for the past two weeks, teaching Graham and my sister and cousin, rewriting my sequence (many times), and finalizing my playlist. I even reworked the sequence (and playlist) one last time this morning before teacher training. I wanted to make sure it flowed nicely and made sense.

Our day started with an hour-and-15-minute class taught by one of Sutra's instructors. I paid lots of attention to the cues the instructor used as sort of a last-minute study session. I then watched one of my fellow trainees, who has been having a tough time lately, lead us through her class. She is excellent at centering and opening herself up to the class. I admire that about her. Then another trainee taught her class, but I sat that one out to study my sequence a little more and calm my nerves. I loved her closing quotes and her enthusiasm. She always seems to be having so much fun while practicing and teaching yoga, and that's really what it's all about.

Then it was my turn. I wasn't really nervous, but I didn't have as much energy in the beginning. I made gratitude the theme of my class and shared how grateful I am to have gone through this training with the other ladies. I concentrated on being louder, so I wasn't showing as much personality at first, but once I become more comfortable I even made a few jokes, remarking at one point how no one seemed to want to do head stand so let's just all take a child's pose. I also "lied," not meaning to bring our toes together but rather to keep them wide so we can rag doll up to standing. Those moments were fun; I love making people laugh, even if just for a few moments out of a 45-minute class. I hope to be comfortable enough to keep doing that from now on. My favorite yoga teachers, including Angie, who provided the feedback, are not afraid to be vulnerable, and that's the kind of teacher I want to be.

I can't express how satisfying and humbling it is to have one of your favorite teachers tell you how proud and impressed she is with your class. She said that it showed how much I worked on my sequence and that she has no doubt I will be a great teacher once I bring my personality out more. I wanted to shed tears of immense happiness when I heard that. If nothing else this yoga-teacher training has boosted my confidence, which was non-existent before. I'll be forever grateful for this experience, which isn't exactly over yet. Tomorrow we have a Mafia class followed by the final three practicum class and graduation. I'm so excited for my fellow trainees and can't wait to see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My First Taste of Green New American Vegetarian

Friday's rain put me in the mood for a bowl of chili. I scoured the Internet for restaurants where I could get a bowl of vegetarian chili in central Phoenix. The winner was Green New American Vegetarian, which is on my drive home from work.

The charming little eatery serves all sorts of vegan dishes. I satisfied my chili craving and got an order of fried noodles. This slightly odd pairing was just what I needed that cold, rainy evening after a long day of work.

Chili and noodles to go, please!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 12

It's a short week! We had our final lecture on Tuesday on the business of yoga. Now we don't meet until the end of the month, when we each teach a 45-minute class.

So much to do to prepare:

  • Record myself teaching my all-levels class and then run through it. (Halfway done.)
  • Finalize my playlist.
  • Figure out what the theme of the class will be.
  • Assist one of my teachers in a class.
  • Finish my makeup assignments. 
  • Practice teaching.

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 11


As we near the end of our training, it's time to learn about the business of yoga. On Tuesday we talked about the difference between community and industry, what makes a good yoga teacher and whether to get liability insurance. What most appeals to me is to be part of a community rather than a money-motivated business. Of course, you have to make a living, but when your energy is tied up in solely making money, you aren't really serving others. The intention shouldn't be to become a local celebrity or get rich. A parallel I see in yoga teaching and being a journalist is the desire to help others. If I can help just one person feel better after a class then I will be content.


Saturday was a blur. We started our session with our last naturopathic medicine lecture. We talked about finding natural skin and hair-care products that don’t use dangerous chemicals. We also talked about natural remedies for common ailments, reducing our use of plastic, being aware of where and how our products and food are made, and so much more. The takeaway:  become a more knowledgeable consumer.

We then took part in a backbend and heart-opener workshop. Heart openers are so important to me  right now because I so often have tight shoulders and slump forward. Literally opening the heart can energetically open it and give me more confidence. And confidence has been my intention in every yoga class lately and throughout this training program. Earlier that week I did some reading about the benefits of backbends and heart openers and came across this helpful info on the Yoga 411 blog: "When you come into a heart opener the focus should be the front part of the body. Instead of bending the back, open the heart center. Instead of dropping the head back, focus on a long neck. Allow the front part of the hips and thighs to find length and a bit of stretch."
After the workshop we got hands-on practice in adjusting each other. The gate pose adjustment had my obliques sore for days.  The other adjustments felt heavenly, especially savasana. And while it was a little intimidating to adjust my teacher, who better to give me feedback on my hand pressure and movements?


I can’t think of a more blissful way to start our day than a massage-therapy session in which we adjusted each other in savasana and had adjustments done on us by the therapist, all using fragrant oils. I didn’t want it to end. We also massaged each other and did some partner poses, like Warrior B while holding each other’s forearms. Following that was a workshop on yogic breathing. We practiced the three-part breath that's good for centering, ujjayi breathing, Skull Shining Breath, Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostile Breathing) and Sitali breath. Then it was show time. The final two hours were dedicated to two 45-minutes yoga classes taught in groups of three or four. I was assigned the cool down/savasana portion of class, which I had yet to do. I had planned to do 15 minutes of class but then a fourth member was added to our team, so it was trimmed to 11. I went over my allotted time by a lot. It was a valuable lesson in being mindful of time. What I perceived to be three minutes of time after I was given a heads-up was actually eight. Yikes! Our teacher exclaimed how impressed she was with all of us, and I felt better about how I did, even though I did forget to walk around the room more and I didn’t adjust anyone in Pigeon on the right side. I also tried to change a song and instead shut the entire sound off, so a team member came over to fix it while I kept teaching. Even after trimming parts of my sequence down the time was over, so I’ll have to work on that a lot more between now and Nov. 30. Finding my voice has been a slow process.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cloudy day at the Grand Canyon

I finally experienced the wonder that is a cloudy, rainy day at the Grand Canyon. It even started sleeting for a few minutes at a time. We soaked in a completely different view of the Grand Canyon National Park than I've ever seen, with ever-changing shadows and random rays of sunlight.

Desert View watchtower.

Pinyon jay, I think.

marette mendoza, grand canyon

Cellphone shot of elk at the Grand Canyon.
Such a cold, windy day called for a bowl of vegetarian chili from the Desert View snack bar. It warmed me up before running over to the watchtower in the snow/sleet.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 10

These past 10 weeks have flown by. When I signed up for yoga-teacher training, three months seemed like an eternity. I'm now realizing how the program just scratches the surface of yoga, leaving so much more to learn.

Tuesday and Saturday 

Tuesday was a practicum night, so we took a class instead of our usual lecture. Saturday began with more on naturopathic medicine, followed by two hours of asana mechanics, where we went over backbends, and two hours of asana method in which we each taught a portion of a power flow class. Some of the feedback I received was that our teacher liked how I finally called out for an audible sigh and that I dimmed the lights as we started to cool down. I was told I need to work on my Titibasa call-out and flow Crow into the sequence better. Our teacher commented on how I have soothing voice; I just need to project more confidence.


Sunday Funday began with a session on the benefits of massage therapy. The first thing I wanted to do afterward was make an appointment to get a massage. It opened my eyes to seeing massage as more of a healing art rather than a luxury. Then we had a session on anatomy and the asanas, followed by two hours of workshopping backbends and heart openers in anticipation of a backbend workshop the following weekend. Our homework: Teach a class in groups of three or four. My part was the cool down/savasana, which I haven't done before. 

It's getting down to the wire!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November morning on Piestewa Peak

I started this gorgeous breezy day with a sunrise hike at Piestewa Peak. It's a perfect outing to go on with out-of-state visitors; just make sure they are up for the climb. You can't beat these city views.

Take a break at this shaded bench.

I made sure to climb to the summit marker this time. It brought back memories of first climbing the mountain on a field trip in elementary school.

The wind made sitting at the summit more exhilarating. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Queen Creek Olive Mill

Graham and I took our visitors to the Queen Creek Olive Mill for a tour and breakfast on Sunday morning. I didn't realize how far of a drive it is from central Phoenix. It's best to make a day of it by also going to Schnepf Farms across the street. 

For $5 each we took a tour of the olive mill. We learned so much about the mill's history, how to make olive oil and olive-oil quality. Now I know what to look for when I next buy some.

The mill building is a store, coffee shop, restaurant and tasting room. Outside sits a garden that grows organic vegetables. Inside, take your pick from gelato, breakfast foods, cupcakes, sandwiches, pizza (on some nights), and more. 

I tried out a frittata sandwich with a mashed potato for breakfast while Graham couldn't resist the waffles topped with berries. The food was filling and made using the mill's products. I was tempted to try a cupcake but I'll save that for next visit. 

That morning there was also a complimentary wine tasting held outside. A band was setting up to play, but we missed it. There are plenty of picnic tables outside on which to enjoy a meal or glass of wine. 

Olive oil flavors include Meyer lemon, bacon and garlic.

We tried some Superstition Coffee and chai tea latte. You can bring your drinks on the tour.

We watched as olives were being pressed. 

Then we tasted olive oils. 

Fresh roasted coffee beans.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Yoga-Teacher Training: Week 9

This is super late. Yoga, work and prepping for visitors put me so behind on blogging. There are now only three more weeks of training, and I'm thrilled/terrified.

Tuesday was our second discussion of the yogi lifestyle. We learned the twelve habits of a yogi and discussed which we most want to focus on. My No. 1 focus throughout this year and especially the training has been to maintain a positive attitude. It's the most difficult thing in the world sometimes. We as a society are so programmed to be negative. When people talk about their relationships or jobs, they tend to say the things that annoy them. Lately Graham has been reminding me of when I am only seeing the negative by saying "First world problems." It's a silly reminder that my stresses are really nothing compared with the real struggles many people face.

That Saturday I observed a Power class and was able to adjust in Downward-facing Dog, Pigeon and Savasana. I jotted down about two and a half pages of notes and cues. I'm glad I was able to get my hands on people to practice adjustments. Later, during training, we attended a class at the studio instead of our usual lecture. The final four hours were for discussing the characteristics of a class, the bell curve, transitions and other teaching fundamentals. Then we had some teaching practice in the studio.

I started Sunday by teaching my sister and cousin yoga. I led a slow beginner's class that they seemed to enjoy. We want to make this a regular class every week or so. Training started with a class at the studio, followed by four hours of Power Flow. We first went over what the basics of a Power Flow class are, but really the best way to learn that is to practice, so that's what we did. We would flow through parts of class, take notes, then flow again. We had plenty of time to play around with arm balances, inversions and advanced variations of poses. I went home exhausted that night but it was so fun!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 8

First, some thoughts: The yoga studio is becoming my second home. I’m there 4-5 times a week, so I see more and more familiar smiles and have tried out new classes. It's nice to be part of this little community. 


I loved our Tuesday night session on the yogi lifestyle. We talked about the yamas and niyamas again and how they apply in our lives. It was part girl talk, part discussion. We learn so much about each other – maybe even more than we want to know – and about ourselves.


I had to stick out my tongue during the ayurvedic science lecture. ... I was waiting for our teacher to say how I was deficient in this or that, but he actually said I have a healthy tongue, though it’s apparently evident that I am a Vata dosha because of my nervous movements. Maybe it’s my general state of being or perhaps it was the slight nervousness of spotting people in our inversion workshop later that day. I was fearful of not being able to hold someone’s legs up and having the person suffer an injury. It was all “borrowing trouble from the future." I was indeed able to hold someone’s legs in both handstand and forearm balance. (Someone closer to my size, of course.)  Most people seemed to know what they were doing. I only spotted two people, so I was able to work on my own practice. Angie spotted me in pincha mayurasana and I did it away from the wall! After the workshop I even answered some questions from a woman who is thinking about signing up for yoga-teacher training. It felt amazing to inspire someone to (maybe) sign up! Our arms were pretty much jelly after the workshop, but we still discussed and attempted more arm balances in our final two hours. I went home with rather tight muscles that night.


The first part of Sunday was all about juicing and how to do it. It’s something I’ve been interested in, but I haven’t made the commitment to buy a juicer. I would consider a cleanse for maybe a day, but I don’t know about any longer than that. We took home from recipes and lots of knowledge about how to cleanse safely if we choose to. Again I went home thinking that I seriously need to take a look at my diet and treat my body better. That night I signed up for a FarmBox subscription from a farm in Willcox so I can start eating organic vegetables. I also want to stay away from processed foods as much as possible, though I’ll try not to beat myself up about it if I give in every once in a while. It’s all about Brahmacharya (moderation), right?

The latter part of Sunday was for review and more teaching practice. I led the class from Hero to Half Hero to Lord of the Fish pose. I also was supposed to teach Revolved Half Moon but instead led them to Half Moon – all because I wasn’t actually doing the pose and mixed up my right and left. Oops! In a regular class the students would have never known, but I need more practice in leading without doing the poses. I felt a lot better about how I did as a teacher, though I didn’t really get any specific feedback. I’ll take that as a job well done. J

That leaves four more weeks of yoga-teacher training!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back to Arizona Fall League

Going to a Fall League game this month brought back some fond memories of games at Scottsdale Stadium a couple of years ago. This year I went to Camelback Ranch Glendale to see the Glendale Desert Dogs play the Peoria Javelinas.  It was a perfect fall evening, with temperatures in the 60s. I was even a bit “cold” as I sipped my iced tea. It wasn’t the same without Sue yelling out “Best in the universe” at all the players, but it was still a good time watching baseball.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 7


Tuesday was a practicum class at Sutra. Highlights of the class were different transitions and the guided visualization of bright light passing through the body at the end. I’m filing these away for future use. Afterward the girls and I went to Main Ingredient for dinner and drinks. I enjoy my time with my yoga buddies!


Our lecture on Ayuvedic Science taught me I may have a Vata imbalance and some of what that entails. After we went over Pitta I suspected I could have a Pitta imbalance as well. I wished the teacher would tell me what he thinks I have but sadly he would not. I guess he wants me to figure it out for myself.(I later took a quiz on finding out  your dosha, and just as I suspected, my results said Vata and Pitta.)

My pre-yoga Saturday had included running 6 miles as part of my training for the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon in December, so I was hoping we wouldn’t have too much movement during yoga. But our next two hours were spent working on Side Plank, Head Stand, Hand Stand and other poses. (Boy, was I sore the next day.) I first tried Head Stand next to a wall, but my teacher encouraged me to try it once away from the wall. She was there to catch me if needed, which reduced my fear. Doing it by myself the first time was such a cool moment;  I felt so accomplished. She then asked me to try it again and I did it! No more using the wall. (A few days later I tried Head Stand at home to see if I could do it again and I was able to four more times away from the wall!)

Later that day, we tried more arm balances, including Side Crow and Forearm Balance. I learned that I have been reinforcing bad habits by using the wall to practice. First I wasn’t activating my lower ab muscles, which was causing me to go into my back. I felt it in my abs the next day after doing it correctly. I’m so grateful for my encouraging and supportive yoga teachers for helping me improve and grow.


The lecture on Nutritional Science taught me I need to take a good look at my eating habits. (Don’t we all?) After that we spent the next two hours discussing the shoulder muscles and pinpointing them on each other’s bodies. It’s not my strong suit. We then went over and demonstrated twisting poses, which felt so nice after Saturday. For teaching practice I led the class to Head Stand, which I transitioned to from Malasana. An extra step to place the knees on the triceps would have made more sense, but I didn’t think about it in the moment.  You live and you learn. 

Now I need to persuade more people to let me teach them my sequences. …

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lunar Flow at the Clarendon

Sutra's Lunar Flow at the Clarendon Hotel was back on the roof this month. When I walked into the hotel Sunday night I initially thought I had the wrong day, but then I spotted some other yogis and followed them to the roof, which has been remodeled and now has more room for yoga. The skies were clear and the temperature was 74 degrees when I left. Couldn't have asked for a more perfect end to the weekend!

A highlight of the class: The community aspect was emphasized throughout. We were asked to hold hands with our neighbors in Tree Pose and into Warrior C. We contemplated how grateful we were to be able to come together with our community to practice yoga. Such a beautiful sentiment!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 6


We spent our last Roots of Yoga session discussing and practicing meditation styles. We started by trying to meditate for about 10 minutes. I could not get into it. It turned out some of the other girls couldn't either. First, I couldn’t stop replaying conversations from throughout the day (or thinking about things I should have said). And then it was the music. I loved the songs and kept thinking about how I’d like to Shazam them. But maybe that’s not what meditation music should do. That was probably done to show us how we should try to pick instrumental meditation music. Wordless music helps quiet the mind!

We also did a moving meditation. We were led through a sequence, one breath per movement, that we repeated twice at our own pace with our eyes closed. Closing the eyes makes a big difference. There’s no looking around, no comparing yourself with other students, no looking at yourself in the mirror to check out your alignment. It throws you a little off balance, but that just forces you to move slowly and mindfully. Closing your eyes helps you look inward and let everything else go.

We even practiced guiding each other through meditation. For my part I guided the other girls through a garden, with bees buzzing about from flower to flower, greenery everywhere, butterflies floating throughout. I asked them to visual bright red roses, and that's where I stopped. I felt like I could/should have said more, but that may just be me being hard on myself. I got a few compliments on my part of the meditation, which I appreciated. My yoga sisters are so kind!


Before class I met with my sister to give her the first yoga lesson she's ever had. What an honor! She seemed to enjoy her first yoga experience, and I hope she tries it again. She even said she felt sore the next day. Yay!

In our practicum class I noticed a few things the instructor did that I liked. First, the creative transitions. I am not used to going directly from Parsvakonasana to Trikonasana, but it makes sense! All you do is straighten your front leg. I'm used to going from Side Angle to Reverse Triangle and then Triangle. Another nice transition is full splits to Pigeon. I also liked how the instructor greets every person before class, either shaking hands or waving. And I liked how he gave the option to use any mudra you connect with in the initial seated meditation. I love options!

The next four hours were an informal Q&A about teaching in general, music, setting the tone of a class, how to demo at a studio, and sequencing. I took home so many insights and even a few book recommendations. I ordered "Happy Yoga" that night.


After our practicum came the four hours of training that many of us seemed a little stressed about. Our homework had been to put together an all-levels sequence. We were told we'd teach a part of class, and it's a little scary not knowing exactly what you'll be asked to do. I ended up leading the class through the initial centering, twists, cat/cows, Balasana, Downward-facing Dog, Forward Folds, and Sun Salutations. I actually wasn't nervous, which was shocking! I felt confident that I knew the cues. I just need to inject more of my personality into it. Easier said than done, but I am proud of how I did. I am proud of how we all did, actually. On my to-do list now: Finalize my first playlist and practice my all-levels flow to it.

And just like that, the first half of our yoga-teacher training is done!

Maybe one day ...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yoga on my mind

Thoughts on yoga, meditation

As one of our yoga teachers keeps reminding us, the 200-hour yoga-teacher training just scratches the surface, and it’s up to us to research more on our own. So I’ve been looking up meditation techniques and scripts online that I’d like to personalize. I ordered the book "Happy Yoga," which at least two people have recommended recently. I’m also trying to practice at home every day and as often as possible in the studio.  

I have committed to try a few minutes of meditation each day, but I've had mixed results. We were told we might see a difference after 30 or more days of doing it. I am finding that it helps to immediately meditate when you wake up, sitting up (not in bed), before you think to do anything else. If I start doing other things, like cleaning, eating breakfast, or watching TV, I probably won’t get to meditating. On one of the days I meditated and practiced yoga at home last week I noticed that I had a smile on my face for the entire day. I was more likely to say hi to strangers and ask how they were doing. And I was more chatty than my usually introverted self. It'll be interesting to see if that continues to happen.

When I practice at home, I told myself I need to be doing at least 20 minutes. Lately it’s been more like 30-40, but some days I wake up late and have to skip it before work. (Keep me accountable!)  I just flow in whatever way feels good. I’m working on hand stand against a wall, too. I’m hoping daily practice will help me release my fear and build core strength. Besides confidence in my public speaking those are the areas I most want to work on.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 5

Last week flew by, mostly because of everything going on outside of yoga. I noticed that the concepts we're studying in yoga I'm reminded of every day off the mat.


Our lecture and yoga practice centered on vibration as a tool and the chakras. I seemed to have the most difficulty in getting out the seed syllable Hum, for my throat chakra. This might be a hint that I am holding back on saying things, which makes sense. I tend to think a lot before I say anything, so much so that I often don't say anything at all. I found it difficult to be present during lecture that night because I had plans afterward. Those plans were to go to the Lumineers concert at Comerica Theatre. I thought for sure I'd miss the first part of the concert because yoga didn't end until 9 p.m., but luckily the band didn't go on until at least 9:30 p.m., so Graham and I had plenty of time to get there. That didn't stop me from stressing out about it beforehand. As Graham would say, I was borrowing trouble from the future.

During the concert as the band started to play "Ho Hey." Wesley, the lead singer, asked everyone to put their phones away so they could truly experience the moment. It was the reminder I needed earlier that night at teacher training and then again at that moment. From then I kept my phone put away until the band was set to leave the stage. I tried to really feel the music. I could feel it vibrating through my body. It was an incredible show!


I missed Saturday's class, including a workshop on yin flow, because I was in Flagstaff for a good friend's wedding. Luckily I was back to Phoenix around 11:10 a.m. Sunday, just in time to change and get ready for yoga teacher training. It was a fun but late night Saturday, so I felt grateful that we started the day off with a yoga nidra workshop (yogic sleep). It was so relaxing that I felt as though I had slept for a few moments, because at one point I couldn't recall what the instructor had just said. I opened my eyes briefly just to make sure everyone wasn't up and waiting for me to wake up. 

After lunch we a had a meditation workshop. (I really lucked out after a night of celebrating.) Again, I felt as thought I had fallen asleep, especially as we used creative visualization with our legs stretched up the wall. I came back when one of my legs started to slip down the wall. I pictured the green of Hawaii and its beaches with Graham and the dogs. The word happiness came to mind.

The last two hours were for going through cues for more poses and practicing them. After practicing Chaturanga Dandasana and realizing some of us need to go down to our knees until we can do it correctly, we tried Bakasana (which I found out I've been doing wrong), Side Crow, head stand, forearm balance, hand stand, among others. Forearm stand is my favorite so I appreciated the practice. One day I'll do it away from the wall --- I just need to release my fear.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yoga-Teacher Training: Week 4


Last week was a practicum week, meaning that instead of lectures we attended a class at Sutra. Tuesday’s class was over at 7, so the girls decided to meet up at The Yard for some bonding over dinner. It was nice to spend time together outside of the yoga setting and learn even more about them.


Lecture centered on vital anatomy, specifically the types of muscle stretching in yoga. I then grabbed a quick lunch at Wy Not Café before our studio time. The next four hours were spent adjusting each other in seated poses. We did so many forward folds that we felt euphoric afterward. It was nice to both practice adjustments and have adjustments done on us. There was a portion of the class during which we warmed ourselves up by flowing in whatever way we wanted, which I looked at as good practice in coming up with my own sequences and seeing what feels natural to do after each pose.


Our lecture on meditation styles including practice various techniques. Meditation is not only sitting meditation but can be other things we enjoy, like hiking, running, working, anything. For me it’s being outdoors, especially when Graham and I are camping and hiking.

During our studio time I discovered that something in me had changed. Yes, I was a little nervous, but I had a lot more confidence. I led the class from downward-facing dog through a warrior sequence on the right side, and I felt great about it. When I was done I received some positive feedback that made me feel like a million bucks. I then led the class from Warrior 2 to Ardha Chandrasana, which was a little more difficult to do the first time. When I tried it again I focused on what my body was doing first and then gave out cues. That made leading much easier. Now I need to hang on to this confidence!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Desert Botanical Garden's 75th anniversary

In honor of Desert Botanical Garden's 75th anniversary, admission will be free Saturday, Sept. 28.

The It's a Garden Party is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to free admission, get into the Monarch Butterfly Exhibit for free and take home a free Greenaid seedbomb.

Cooling temps mean it's a perfect time to visit the garden!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training: Week 3

As I sit here with sore muscles and a stomach full of pasta, it's hard for me to believe I've made it through three weeks of yoga-teacher training. My body sure believes it though.


The week's lecture focused on the yamas and niyamas. I've been applying what we've learned in my life, especially satya, truthfulness, and ahimsa, non-violence. For instance, if I don't want to do something that I was invited to do, I am trying to be honest about how I really feel and honoring myself by not forcing myself to do it. I'm trying to practice ahimsa by being aware of the negative thoughts I have about myself and reminding myself not to believe everything I think.


Saturday began with Brad's class. I was excited to debut my new yoga mat. I liked how he made a point to introduce himself to every student before class. That's something I'd like to do.
The next four hours were spent learning the art of teaching. We must have gone over Sun Salutation A 100 times. But we all seem a lot more comfortable with it. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to volunteer for overtime at work that night, so I dragged my sore body to work until 10 p.m. afterward. Not my best idea, and I was definitely not practicing ahimsa toward myself that day.


Heather's class was a "block party" in which we used a block for the entire class to keep us in alignment. It also helped in our core workouts, but I'll definitely feel it tomorrow. Ouch! The final four hours of training were spent discussing the fundamental elements of a basic class. We each led a section of a basic flow class. I was tasked with leading the class to plank pose, locust (in three different variations), child's pose, bridge (in three different variations), pigeon pose and baddha konasana, bound angle pose. This was difficult for me because we also had to suggest props and cues for alignment. I also wasn't comfortable with these poses because we have yet to discuss them in detail in class. I think I did an OK job for one of my first times leading the class. I need to work on varying my tone and being more animated, but I think that will come with practice and confidence in knowing the material. Being in front of the room was intimidating; I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead. Next time will be better -- I hope!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

D.C. recap: My first Washington Nationals game

I remember watching Bryce Harper play with the Scottsdale Scorpions during Arizona Fall League games three years ago. Crowds would gather near the dugout in hopes of getting an autograph from the then-18-year-old player, yelling out "Mr. Harper! Mr. Harper!"

The memories of Fall League games with a dear friend were on my mind as I watched him play with the Washington Nationals over Labor Day weekend. We created new memories that night.

The Diamondbacks have their Legends, and the Nationals have the Presidents. They race around the field, too, only one of them was in cahoots with the grounds crew, who held the other presidents back so he could win.

As we walked away, Abraham Lincoln came up from behind us, breaking us apart with his body as he hurried away. I wonder where he was going in such a rush ...

We sat in the upper level so we can catch a glimpse of the Capitol from the stadium. Our seats didn't exactly have a view of the Capitol, but we didn't have to walk far to see it.

It was a little hard at first to cheer for a team that's not the D-Backs, but like my home team often did this season, the Nationals rallied to beat the Mets, rewarding fans who stayed. Also, kudos to the Nationals players for great at-bat songs.