.t is for...tapas.

Here it is, my second entry into the Sounding Out Sanskrit series. What, you thought I was going to talk about small Spanish plates? Nope, different kind of tapas. I'm talking niyama here (one of the 8 limbs of yoga as outlined by Patanjali...but that's a whole other S.O.S. post), or in other words, an individual discipline. Tapas literally means heat. And being late June in the Central Valley, I have had heat on the mind a lot lately.

What does heat have to do with yoga? Well, nothing really. You don't have to be hot to practice yoga. You might like to be hot while you get your asana on, but you can practice up at the North Pole and it's still yoga. Another translation for tapas is perseverance, and that's where the yoga comes in. The pushing to your edge, the working hard to achieve something you really want, the moving past the uncomfortable and getting to the other side. Obviously, we do this on our mat. Pushing ourselves physically comes somewhat naturally for most people, especially when placed with a bunch of people all sweating and breathing and suffering together - like in a yoga class. {speaking of which, go see Kelly at Yoga Seed Collective if your really want to get your tapas on. It's been four hours since class ended and I think I'm still sweating!}

What's not so easy? Taking it off the mat. Where our lives are filled with shades of grey and complications...and excuses. We all have areas where we can grow. Change. Evolve. Take a minute right now and think about what makes you uncomfortable but where you'd like to make change. Speaking in public? Signing up for ballroom dancing classes - alone? Finally asking that cute barista out? Asking for a raise? If the thought of doing it makes you squirmy, that's how you know it's exactly what you should be doing. Really imagine yourself taking the next step, and lean into the uncomfortable sensations. Breathe. No one ever died from being uncomfortable, I promise. :)

Tap into your tapas and go for it. I guarantee whatever it is your'e aiming for, it's going to be amazing on the other side. 

And speaking of heat, I must go and pack my bags for a little jaunt down to Death Valley and Las Vegas. Because Sacramento isn't hot enough already...? I'll be back with a new Adventure File post next week!

.connect with me. --> .facebook. .twitter. .pinterest.


.pick your own.

I am very fortunate to live in a place that has one of the best farmer's markets in the country. It's a bit of a community ritual, going down to the park on Wednesdays and Saturdays, checking out the edible wares, doing some people watching, and maybe getting your veggie corn dog on (mmmmm...). 
We were listening to the Freakanomics podcast the other day (FANTASTIC if you haven't ever listened to it, by the way), and the topic was eating locally, and whether it was really as good for us, the planet, and the economy to eat this way. Spoiler alert, but their conclusion (after talking to various experts, reviewing academic studies, etc.), is that NO, this is not the answer to our food problems. While they make several good scientific and numerical claims and points in their piece, I can't help but disagree. You see, one thing you can't measure is people's well being, their sense of connection, of wholeness. Going out and touching. Seeing. Feeling. Knowing exactly how food gets to your table is important. It touches us deep down on a primal level, way down in our root chakra where our sense of survival and interconnected-ness lies. Even if you don't buy your food at your own farmer's market, going and experiencing that connection is good for the heart. As our world speeds up and becomes smaller, our desire to slow down increases. Buying food at the farmer's market might be inefficient for our pocketbooks, but not for the soul. 

Even more inefficient for the pocketbook? Growing your own.* After spending $30 on plants, soil, cages, etc., for a few plants, it makes you wonder how many veggies you could buy with that money (especially if you bought them in season, when they'd be ripe anyway). But it's beside the point. Going out everyday, watching them go from little transplant to ripened thing that you can actually eat, is magical. And you can't put a price on that.

Do you have anything planted? 

.connect with me. --> .facebook. .twitter. .pinterest.

*Of course, if you plant from seeds and are all established, it would be quite cost effective. I'm talking about your everyday, throw a few tomato and pepper plants out there peeps, like myself. 


.bits and pieces.

Just a few odds and ends that I would like to share with y'all...


First up, I'd like to tell you all about the Meditation Revolution that Yoga Journal is doing. It's a 28 day challenge that starts July 9th, and if you sign up you'll get free meditations (including some audio) and support emailed to you everyday. I don't know about you, but I think meditation is hard. But I know that practice is the key to success, and a little motivation never hurt either! Try the revolution with me, and see if we can master our minds! ...or at least make it a habit to try to.

Next up, I wanted to talk about the Summer of Love that Amy is doing over at Vanagon Champion.
I think pretty much every lady I know (and even some men-folk) has expressed to me at some point that they do not like their body. Yoga teaches us to accept and love ourselves for who are. Right now. This moment. Think about all the magical, wonderful, amazing things your body does for you every single day. How can we for one second not be awed and thankful for everything that is does? You are beautiful, just the way you are. Honor yourself with some self-love this summer, and wear that swimsuit! Wear those shorts! And enjoy it! Follow along with Amy's posts this week and see if you can break the body-blues that we construct in our own minds.

Lastly, I wanted to say Happy Solstice to everyone. I love the idea of celebrating the seasons and the Earth, noting the passage of time on these days of natural highs and lows. Take some time today to get outside, feel the sun on your arms, and be grateful for the bounty of summer that is upon us.

.connect with me.


.adventure file. yosemite.

Last week we took a little trip to Yosemite and Mono Lake. It is so strange to think that this is the last time that we might see these things (we are moving to Seattle in September, for those not in the know). Well, the last time we might see them for awhile at least.

Needless to say, it was a beautiful, relaxing, and memorable couple of days. We spent the time hiking, walking around the little town of Lee Vining, and making s'mores around the campfire. There's something about getting out of town that just makes time crawl. The unfamiliar experiences just make you have to slow down. Breathe. Enjoy. Be in the moment. Just like being on your yoga mat forces you to do these things, so does vacation. Yoga in action. I love it! Other ways yoga lessons found their way from my mat and into life:

  • Drawing upon all those balancing poses to cross streams on rocks and fallen branches.
  • Gathering up my courage to leap across creeks that I was pretty sure I could jump across. (I could!)
  • Taking a few minutes to sit and listen to the sounds of nature, feel the cool breeze on my neck, and soak in the loveliness of the world.
Whether you have an epic road trip planned for this summer, or can only get away for a picnic in the park, see how in the moment you can be. Turn your phone off, go barefoot in the grass, and get in touch with the here and now. 



.d is for...dharana.

I'm going to kick off a little series here to help illuminate some of the "mystical" words that you might come across in the world of yoga. They're just Sanskrit, but the words often have a much deeper meaning than a simple English translation can provide. So let's get this party started!

I just spent the last four hours trying to finagle the look of this here old blog. Four. Hours. And the time just flew by. I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed by something that I had such one-pointed concentration for so long. The ability to focus so acutely on one thing is the first step in successful meditation, and is called dharana (one of the eight limbs of yoga) in Sanskrit. In today's world, where we all feel the impulse to constantly be reaching for our phones, looking at our Facebook feed, and checking our email, the ability to concentrate is increasingly more difficult and rare. Lucky for us, though, it's also something we can practice. The brain is a muscle, and just like we exercise our bodies during an asana (yoga posture) practice, we can also work on improving our dharana. The next time you have a few minutes to spare while waiting for an oil change or something, and you feel the urge to reach for your phone for the 100th time that day, don't. Try this instead.

Sit where you can see outside if you're not there already. Pick four objects at roughly equal distances from you, starting at your feet and ending at the farthest distance you can see. Look at each for 60 seconds or so, really concentrating on the object. Think about where the object came from, how it got there. What it might feel like. Its purpose. Then move to the next object, going further away from you. When you get to the fourth object, reverse the order until you're back at your feet. There, now your brain is stronger! So much more productive than checking to see who's eating what for dinner or needs something in Mafia Wars.

Sunset near Great Basin National Park. Ahhhhh.
When was the last time you were able to focus and just lose all sense of time? Bet you didn't even know you were practicing yoga... ;)



I have been reading Deepak Chopra's Why is God Laughing, Here's the line that has stuck with me:  
"Either you're a person wondering if you have a soul, or you're a soul who knows that being a person isn't real."
 Whoa, heavy stuff, right? That line hit me like a ton of breaks, right in my third chakra (For you non-chakees, this is the solar plexus, aka the spot right underneath your sternum where your ribs separate, aka the "bread basket." This is the place where we hold our self-identity and fears). So much of our lives are fear-based, but the reality is that we cannot predict the future. Yes, it might happen. Your worst fears might come true. But you know what? They also might not. Spending time worrying about it is taking you out of the present. Here. Now. Where everything is fine. Or it isn't. But it just...is.

When you feel fear overtaking your reality, one of the best ways to counteract the rising tide is with heart openers. These simple yoga postures will open up your heart, expand your chest, and allow more oxygen in to your body to help you think more clearly. Think about it: what do people who are afraid instinctively do? They hunch over, shoulders slump forward, chest collapses in. We do this naturally to protect our most vulnerable area, our heart and vital organs. But when this fear is only imagined, we are only perpetuating the cycle by assuming this position; we need to open up through our heart and chest, take some deep breaths, and invite life, right here and right now, in. So...here we go!

.easy seated pose. 

Take a minute or two to sit quietly, and tune into your breath. Breathe in and out through the nose, and start to lengthen your inhales and exhales. When we are afraid, we often take short, shallow breaths which stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and can actually cause us to hyperventilate. See if you can match the length of your inhale to your exhale, maybe to a count of 4 for each. After a few of these breaths, see if you can make your exhale longer than your inhale; try inhaling for 4 counts, exhaling for 6. When you are able to do this for a few breaths, start to notice how you are sitting. Extend your spine straight up, tuck your chin slightly to elongate the back of the neck, and pull your shoulders up and down your back, away from your ears. Brings your hands into prayer position, and press your thumbs into your sternum. Feel the connection to your heart; think about it there in your chest, keeping you alive and working hard all day every day for you. Feel grateful!

.seated side bend.

Bring your left hand to the ground outside of your left hip, bend your elbow in towards you, and reach your right arm up and over your head, stretching through your ribs and chest. Keep your right hip anchored down, and really reach through your top hand. See if you can roll your heart up towards the sky a bit, expanding through your chest and ribs. Deeeeeeep breaths here...feel how the inhales stretch you out and open you up, from the inside out. Switch sides and repeat.


Laying on your stomach, bring your hands right under your shoulders, and press into your hands, lifting your chest. Keep your legs pressed onto the ground, and clench your butt to protect your low back. Only straighten the arms as much as is comfortable for your low back; you can even rest on your forearms. As you inhale, shine your heart forward - imagine it being lifted up and out, pulling the rest of  your body right along with it.

.childs pose.

From your stomach, push up to hands and knees and lower your hips towards your feet. You can take the knees wide apart, or keep them together, whichever your prefer. Keep your arms outstretched, lower your forehead down, and feel your heart melting down, connecting to the earth.


From your back, bend your knees, and extend your arms down your sides. Scoot your feet back towards your hips until your fingers can touch the back of your heels. Pressing into your feet, lift your hips up toward to sky, pushing up through your hips and chest. Keep your arms extended on the ground, and really push your heart open, feeling the tension across the chest and heart area melt away. Lower your self slowly back down, and pull your knees in to your chest, hugging them to you. Give them a squeeze - love yourself!

.here..now. meditation.

From a comfortable position, either seated or lying down, come back to focusing on your breath. As you inhale, imagine the word "here." On the exhale, imagine the word "now." As you do this, really connect to the sensations you're feeling; the ground beneath you, the cool breath at your nostrils, the hair along the back of the neck. The sensations that you are feeling here. Now. Continue with this as long as you can or would like. If other thoughts intrude, just let them go, and come back to Here. Now.

Whew. Now don't you feel better? Let's bust some fear together.