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Helm of the Heart

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Category Archives: Pseudo-narcissism

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I’ve decided that I absolutely LOVE Super Bowl Sunday. It’s one day out of the year when there’s no traffic, the beaches are empty, and you can go out to eat and feel like you rented a private room at almost any restaurant. I’ve had such an amazing day, just spending time with Daniel and Rumo, practicing yoga on the beach and soaking up the sun in Southern California on this beautiful February day.

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I’ve been thinking about how my relationship with my body has changed through yoga. The word “yoga” means to “yoke” or “unite”. Yoga is forging a connection between your mind, body and spirit. Not only have I become more sensitive to my body- what I consume and what I expose my physical form to, but I have also developed a greater love and respect for my body.

I feel as though my physical form has changed in many positive ways since I started practicing regularly two years ago. I have developed stronger core muscles, (and muscle-tone in general), my posture has improved, my hips have widened and my waist has narrowed. I feel that yoga gifted me a woman’s body.

In terms of genetics, I am on the thinner side. I am 5’8 inches tall and I tend to be a bit lanky. When I do put on weight, it all goes to my stomach (thanks cortisol!). While yoga does help me stay healthy and trim, I feel as though I am fit and muscular, and not just “skinny”. My concept of beauty has also changed, helping me to embrace parts of myself that I would have previously been ashamed of. I feel much more comfortable in my own skin.

Our culture seems incredibly comfortable with violence, while the human form is often considered “scandalous” or “taboo”. Clearly there is a distinction between nudity and pornography, but overall I think our squeamishness with our physicality is absurd.

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A year or so ago, I’m not sure if I would have shared pictures of myself in a bikini on the internet. I even hesitated today, and I almost went back and deleted pictures that show “tummy fat” or “rolls”, but I’ve decided that I’d rather celebrate the aspects of my practice that make me feel strong and capable, rather than picking at so-called imperfections, or being overly critical. I have been practicing yoga 4-5 times a week and eating well… most of the time. Sundays are definitely my “anything goes” day. Daniel has Sundays off from work so we usually feast. Today we went to “Fortune Cookies” in Fountain Valley and ravenously devoured sushi and Chinese food (they serve both there and it is delicious!!).

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I hope everyone enjoyed their Sunday. I wholeheartedly encourage America to continue its love of football so that I will continue to have such marvelous Sundays like these 😉

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♥/☼
Amanda

 

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Daniel and I are currently house sitting in San Jose. I’m going to yoga school, he’s digging through our storage unit, gardening, and taking care of Daisy (she’s such a sweetheart). We’ve been indulging in television since we don’t usually have it, so basically we’re watching The Food Network, Animal Planet, and Antiques Roadshow. Go figure.

Miss Daisy

We were watching The Colbert Report the other night, although I think it was an old one, and there was this guy that came on and spoke about a documentary film that he made in which he posed as a guru named Kumaré.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGIkf3vo2dw

Kumaré basically believes the same same thing that the actor/film maker believes: that every individual has the power to be his or her own guru (guru is sanskrit for teacher or master). Although there were a lot of mixed reactions to his little experiment, a lot of Kumarés followers were empowered by the message that he delivered, which is that each of us has the powers within in us to heal ourselves and become our own masters.We don’t really need to follow “gurus” or other religious leaders in order to gain the type of fulfillment that we seek.

This doesn’t mean that our teachers aren’t vital; we all have room to grow and we can all serve as teachers for one another in some manner. I think that it is important to understand that we all have the ability to lead the type of life we want.

This got me to thinking about how differently I would live my life if I had people following and emulating my every move. I guess having children is similar in some ways, although children rarely follow every action of their parent. But in a scenario where a person is responsible for truly leading and living by example… well that would probably change some of my behaviors.

So I’m challenging myself. I’m going to start with one week where I am going to try to live my life as if I needed to be a constant example for others. If what I am doing is not something I would encourage others to do, then why would I do it myself? The main areas I think will be impacted by this are my eating habits and the way that I nurture my mind and body. Who knows though? I’m sure there are plenty other aspects of my life that could be influenced with this kind of challenge. I’m not claiming that I will be living in some perfect, enlightened state for the next week, but I hope to gain some perspective on the idea that we are each our own guru. That each of us can be a positive reflection for the beings around us.

I’ll keep you updated on my guru experiment, and I encourage anyone reading to try the same- even for just a day. Let me know how it goes!

♥ /☼

Amanda

So begins my teacher training. I felt like a giddy school girl with my bag packed, new highlighters, pens, notebooks and yogic texts. I’ve always enjoyed school/learning, and this is the pinnacle of what education represents for me.

Not only am I physically engaged in a practice that has been life changing for me, but I’m mentally stimulated, surrounded by like-minded individuals who wish to share their joy with others. Our teachers, Angie and Noell are both amazing yoginis that I have so much to learn from. I immediately felt at ease with my “spirit siblings” that I will be spending my weekends with for the next six months.

One thing Noell mentioned during training that I think about constantly is the fact that all teachers learn from their students, and all students teach their teachers. I am familiar with this concept as “teach/learn” & “learn/teach“, each with the primary role emphasized and the secondary role in support.

I actually discussed this with my Middle Schoolers a few weeks ago when one of my students freaked out and was cursing when we couldn’t read The Hunger Games for two straight periods. I totally understood his frustration (I was actually kind of excited that he was so engaged in the book) but cussing up a storm because things aren’t going his way is not an appropriate coping method and I thought this was a teachable moment. I explained to my class that these two identities (teach/learn & learn/teach) were inextricably linked, and that as their teacher, I have to constantly be aware of what my students are teaching me through their actions and reactions. I also mentioned to them that there is only one of me and 21 of them (I teach Special Education and this number is ridiculously high) and I have to do the best for the most amount of people. Often, this means that I won’t make everyone happy, but again, these mistakes inform my instruction and ultimately make me a stronger teacher.

Just bringing this concept to their attention made a huge difference in their awareness of the class as a whole. Often we don’t take the time to discuss things because we get so wrapped up in how we think things should be or how we think people should act. We must lead by example and be transparent in our actions and motivations. Admitting mistakes and even celebrating our struggles is an amazing tool for growth.

This carries over into my identity as a yoga teacher/learner. Currently, I am predominately in learning mode, but I am also developing my personal style and voice. I have to be true to myself, which is something I learned very early on teaching Middle Schoolers (they sniff out insecurities like no other!) and it will continue to be relevant as I begin teaching yoga.

Overall, I am exhausted but rejuvenated at the same time. I am so excited for the coming adventures 🙂

Riding the wave like a wind-swept warrior.

love & light,

Amanda

It’s been a challenging week. By that I mean that there’s been a lot of stress, anger, solar flare, and general lethargy. And I don’t think that it’s just me.

I know I’m having a hard time when everything feels like an ordeal. I spent a good hour talking myself out of going to yoga (I’m soooooo tired) and then feeling guilty about not going to yoga. So I just went to class, even though a large part of me wanted to wallow in my frustration.

I’m not a huge advocate of forcing things, especially if they should to fun and relaxing. But there are times when you just need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something.

Tonight, class kicked my ass. In a totally awesome way that I desperately needed. Getting out of my monkey mind for 90 minutes gave me a renewed, vibrant take on life.

In yoga, the poses that are the most difficult for us are the ones we need to do the most. There is nothing like breaking through your blocks and having things finally fall into place after a lengthy struggle. Half moon used to aggravate me, but now it’s one on my favorites! Most arm balances still elude me, but I’m happy knowing that they will come to me eventually. There is always more to learn in yoga. That’s why it’s called a “practice”.

I hear over and over that we store a lot of our emotional baggage and stress in our hips. My favorite pose to ease this is pigeon pose (above is a modified version). For a step-by-step breakdown:  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863

I’m kind of masochistic for pigeon pose, in that I love the dull, achy feeling that I get in my hips… it hurts so good. As I feel my hips open, I try to picture the discomfort as all the unwanted things I am carrying around with me, leaving my body.

Ommmmmmm

love/light

Amanda Panda

Most yoga practitioners agree that maintaining a consistent practice while traveling is difficult. For my spring break, we drove down to Orange County (where my husband’s family and some of our dear friends live) and then on to San Diego (where I grew up) to visit.

During his trip I really tried not to stress about seeing everyone, as I’m never able to squeeze everyone and everything into these short visits. Instead, I just let things happen organically, not really seeking or planning, but soaking up my family and especially my darling nephew Austin, who is like bliss in a cute baby capsule.

I practiced yoga in the sun/shade while spending time with Daniel and the dogs, sparrows, and bumblebees.  I went to a heated class at CorePower yoga with my lovely lady friends and even got up early (9am is early, right?) to go to the gym for an inexpensive class.

The best thing was getting out of my usual studio/routine and just allowing my practice to follow me wherever.

T’was awesome.

Also, being barefoot outdoors is good for you. FOR REAL.

It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth’s electrical rhythms and free electro

—James L Oschman, Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary.

full article: http://wakeup-world.com/2012/02/22/is-barefoot-contact-with-the-earth-necessary-for-health/

Go do some yoga on your bare feet.

In love/light,

Amanda

20120410-135631.jpgThis is an excellent meditation pose but it requires open hips and flexible ankles. I have been working on this pose by gradually holding it on each side for a few deep breaths, increasing the duration over time and alternating each ankle on top to maintain balance in my hips.

In love/light,

Amanda

The light within me bow wows to the light within you.

Hi, guys!  I’m Aimee.  Panda did such a great job of introducing me that I feel like I don’t even need to start writing in this thing.

So… I’m out. Good luck with all that yoga stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding!!!!!!!

 

I’m still here!!!

 

Love me!!

 

Anywhoozle… So yeah, yoga.  Glorious, glorious yoga.  Pretty much my whole life has been transformed since my practice began almost exactly three years ago.  That may seem like no time at all (or a lot of time, especially if you are a three year old person) but to me it feels like an eternity.  I say this because in that time I’ve done a lot of sh*t. Namely, I finished the most circuitous college route evarrr (I FINALLY got my Bachelor’s Degree in Directing for Theatre after seven years of arduous book larnin’) (woohoo!). I moved from one coast to another (NYC—>SF), started one career (bartending) and entertained pursuing others (yoga teacher, therapist, drama teacher). I’ve met hundreds of people and made a handful of new friends (which equates to a few hundred Facebook friends, by the way. NO BIG DEAL).  I’ve cried probably in total a whole day’s worth of tears and laughed a solid year’s worth of laughter… I’ve loved so much, lost a bunch, and learned even more.

Through everything, though, one constant remains: my sweet, sweet yoges.

I came to yoga after an intense break-up.  A break-up so dramatic it forced me to temporarily relocate to the other side of the country during the summer of 2009.  Now, here’s the deal.   I’m usually pretty good at keeping my cool.  I’ve been described as both “unfeeling” and “cold” by a few acquaintances over the years (Shut up, Mom!). Usually not one to want to “bother” others with my “emotional sh*t,” I had actively decided… to be passive… about expressing my feelings regarding my struggling relationship (and, incidentally, my growing depression) to most of my friends. I figured most of them lived across the country (home for me is San Diego and I lived in NYC) so there’s no point in dragging them into my drama… and besides, I thought, they probably have so much going on in their own lives… I can totally get through this alone, I’m strong enough… I’m capable of dealing with this on my own, right? Right…?

Wrongsville, USA.  With no drive to eat healthy/workout/take care of myself and no spiritual practice/avenue to express myself/hobby to share with others, it became increasingly more difficult to feel rooted, grounded, and happy.  And, ultimately, I started to fall out of love with myself.

Guys.  That can’t happen.  Our love for ourselves is what keeps us alive and what paves the way for others to love us.

Real talk. Each and every one of us is, like, a bazillion times more attractive and alluring when we truly love ourselves and are confident in our talents.  Additionally, we are much better at expressing love in this state because we’re well versed in the activity already, having practiced on ourselves for some time.

During a meditation course I took this weekend as part of my yoga teacher training, I was told one translation of the word ‘confidence’ simply means ‘with faith.’  This seems uber appropriate, being that a confident person, to me, is one who has faith in themselves and their abilities.  I also believe that faith is a key component in obtaining existential comfort and mental stability.

So my goal when I went home to San Diego that summer was to fall back in love with myself and regain that Faith I’d lost in all my New York City relationship-school-messy-mess.  I wanted my confidence back for realsies.

On a whim, a mere five days after my plane touched down on Lindbergh Field, I started taking daily yoga classes at various 24-hour fitness clubs around San Diego.  My plan for the summer was to take a Calculus course at San Diego State University that would require a meager 3 1/2 hours of my weekday, which would free up virtually all my mornings and afternoons for me to do anything at my whimsy (rough life, I know).  After two weeks straight of yoga, I was hooked.  Like hooked- hooked.  Like any-cute-and-topical-addict-junky-metaphor-you-can-come-up-with-hooked.  In yoga I’d found my anti-anti-anxiety med.  I’d found my non-church church.  In three short weeks home in San Diego, I’d found Love again.  And this was only the beginning!

I won’t go into too much depth right now as to how this beautiful gift from The Universe completely altered my existence- how I feel, how I think, how I process human experience because- let’s be honest- I’ve talked your face off already… but I’ll also refrain because that’s what I’ll be spending the rest of my life (and this blog) doing. I don’t want to waste it all in one breath. I actually want to work on expanding and extending my breath, my prana, and yours as well. I want to give you all a little glimpse into my scope of experience in hopes to inspire you to better yours. Yoga was an integral step towards positive change for me; I truly hope it can be one for you, too.

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” -Rumi

Change is both inevitable and beautiful. The challenge for us is to embrace the f*ck out of it.

To our fabulous new union~ Namaste, my lovelies.