Wholeness and Connection

The Greensboro Downtown Yoga Manifesto states "Connection is the meaning of this journey".  When was the last time you truly felt wholeness and connection?  You felt like you were a part of something and belonged, the feeling of being with the people you were supposed to be with?  I'm not asking you to imagine a time where everything was perfect, but imagine a time you felt like you fit.  Can you? For much of my life especially in my grade school years, I viewed myself as separate.  It felt like I was different from most of the kids my age.  It's true that I could be a bit of an odd ball, I liked things that weren't mainstream.  It never felt like I'd found my tribe.  Looking back, I think a lot of that was purely a point of view.  I viewed myself as separate therefore I was separate.  My state of mind is what was causing the suffering, maybe not so much reality.  What would have happened if I had shifted my perspective to one of viewing myself as whole and connected?  This is a regret of mine, and only the regret you get with the luxury of aging.  

As I've gotten older, I've definitely found my tribe, a place where I belong without question.  Still I often carry with me feelings of separateness and disconnection that have lingered from my younger years.  Is this a feeling that's familiar to you?  It's taken me a very long time and a lot of yoga to realize those feelings are not reality.  When I'm feeling particularly mindful if I notice the feeling of disconnection in my body I'm able to pause and reframe the feeling and ask myself "how am I the same to this scenario, how am I the same as these folks?"  Reframing to see the connection is not always easy, but most of the time people and situations are mirrors of ourselves and the quicker I can find myself within the picture the quicker I can learn from the people and places I might initially feel separate or disconnected from.  

Luckily for me I do have a tribe, but it's not just there that I fit in, I'm connected to so many different groups of people and the only thing that will keep me separate is my state of mind. 

Where have you found your tribe?  Has having a tribe of people like you made you feel more connected to those that are different or less connected?  

Inspiration, Change and New Beginnings

I've been holding out on all of you. I've got a secret...

It's time I listen to my intuition, take A leap of faith and commit.

I'm breaking up with Wordpress after 5 1/2 years blogging here.  It's time for a change, it's time for something new.

I'm seriously committing to this blog Yoke and Abundance and I'm moving her to square space.  It's for the best.

There are BIG plans for all of you on this blog, and I'm building out content that I hope you'll really enjoy, like a yoga pose of the week,short video yoga sequences and writing prompts for your art journals and morning pages.

In fact I've gotten so serious I've hired a talented designer.  I knew her as Courtney Monaco, she's now Mrs. Malone and the creator of Broad and Main.  Courtney is an up and coming designer and master blogger herself.  She started a successful blog when she was in college, not only blogging regularly about food, yoga and travel, but she also made a profit at it too.  This women is unstoppable and I'm flattered that she is working with me to create a place for you to find yoga, inspiration and grounding to launch your own dreams.

I'll share sneak peaks into our process as we work up to the launch.  Here is our Inspiration board to start...

Color Brand and Inspiration
Color Brand and Inspiration

What do you think?

I think I'm in love....

22 Days

IMG_3989 Much needed retreat at the beach, teaching my first ever yoga teacher training program, running a half marathon, teaching on Elm st. and the last gears and cheers ride all in the last 22 days.  These special events all happening back to back did not pass in a blur because they were too important to go unnoticed.  Each thing requiring unique amounts of time, energy and reflection.  Blogging has always been a great way for me to process what's happened, but there hasn't been enough time for that.  Blog posts were started and abandoned because the right feeling couldn't be conveyed in the short bursts of time I could tuck away.

A rare Saturday evening to my self I'm enjoying a quiet glass of proseco and touch of spicy dark chocolate.  Max is whistling at my feet as he does when he is begging for a pet or more attention.  There is finally time to process, to reflect, to share.

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First things first!  Retreats are necessary for personal development and reflection.  Alone time, meditation, space are necessary to nourish yourself spiritually and personally.  The Emerald Isle retreat with one of my favorite teachers Lisa Amani was helpful in helping me hit my reset button.  I needed a sacred pause in my personal life.  Work was feeling overwhelming, relationships were feeling neglected and I felt like I was neglecting myself.  The beach retreat provided relaxation, space, nourishing activities and ample amounts of rest.  If you have the opportunity I recommend a retreat.  You can even come on the one I'm hosting this Fall.

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Part of the reason I thought it was so vitally important for me to go on a retreat and get grounded was because I knew the following weekend was our first weekend for our first ever Teacher Training Program.   A Yoga teacher training program is not something that a student takes on as a whim.  It's a big life decision whether you are going through the program to deepen your own practice or to become a certified yoga teacher to teach others.  Andra and I had been planning for months and we wanted to make sure we were teaching from a grounded present place.  It's our intention to make sure that we are encouraging and fostering personal growth and learning in this program.  I still haven't really wrapped my head around the enormity of what we are doing that that is probably for the better.  For now I can say that this is big work for the participants, therefor it's big work to facilitate. It will take me a lot of time to fully be able to reflect on this program in a deeper way.  Transformation of students and self is hard to put to words.

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The anticipation building up to our first YTT weekend felt like it was forever, and then as quickly as it was here it was gone.  The very next Friday not even 4 days latter I was boarding a plane to OH for my annually glass city half marathon run.  I'm still not sure how that all happened so quickly.  I'm not sure how one weekend it was an enormity of work and passion, then 4 days of work at the day job and then boarding a plane to OH.  I did decided to treat myself to an upgrade to first class this go around (something I've never in my 32 years experienced, yes it was worth it).  It feels like surely I must be missing days.  Even as I look at the calendar I'm wondering to myself if that is right?  Is the timing correct? How did it all happen in that short amount of time?  I'm honestly not sure.  What can I say about the half marathon this year?  Well, I was sub 2 hours, not my best time, not my worst time.  not enough time to train this go around so I'm not going to complain at sub 2 hours.  I'm going to embrace that training time was a challenge this year, the race was hard and I really did ok.  There will be another chance to run a half and seeing my family was good.

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Last night was another big night.  Elm st. was shut down and I was lucky enough to get to teach a 30 minute class.  Honored, Lucky, and Wow.  That is all I can say.

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Today was Gears and Cheers.  For 9 years Gears and Cheers has been a super fun supported charity ride to raise money for MS.  This is the last year they will do the ride. My Friend Amy and I have ridden it the past three years straight.  It's a blast and I'm really going to miss it.  Not many rides can boast they have a beautiful route, great support, you finish at a vineyard are handed a wine glass (that you keep) with your wine or beverage of choice, can get in line for a big plate of salsarita's and then sit listening to a band under the sun next to a peaceful pond.  I will greatly miss this ride, if my plate was not already full enough I would think about trying to be the organizer myself next year so that it can go on.

Big things.  Still processing, but I wanted to loop you into the fun, because it's been a wild ride.

xoxox my friends, -Alisha

Restful Long Weekends

IMG_3435Nothing better than a wood stove in the mountains.

Here in Greensboro NC we are "Snowed" in.  If you are from the north don't laugh!  It's not even an inch of snow really, but we get sleet and freezing ice too with the "snow" that is.  We just don't get enough snow and bad weather to allocate more money to knowing how to work with this stuff.  There for the city is left immobilized.

Today was president's day and luckily for me that means a three day weekend.  Actually it was 4 days because I opted to take Friday off as well.  I was overdue for some much needed R&R, but I'm basking in the very low key evening "snowed" into my little bungalow.   Here are some pictures from my very relaxing weekend in Saluda, NC.  lots of Yoga, wine, and food.

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Rest Days, my extra long shavasana

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Shavasana, corpse pose, final relaxation is what I consider the most important pose in all of yoga.  At Greensboro Downtown yoga I require my teachers to give students a minimum 10 minute Shavasana.  Why?  Because in our culture we need rest more than we need anything else.  You all push hard, I know.  I see it, I hear you talk about it, and I watch you pull your tired selves into yoga class and push even though you need rest.  Shavasana helps you find balance.  Push yourself hard in class and then fully relax into a well deserved Shavasana.  It's about balance.  Your body needs to rest.

I need the shavasana too.  Let's just say running a yoga studio, working full-time, running regularly and juggling the demands of life can be difficult to balance, difficult to find the personal shavasana of life.  Yes, I too struggle with balance, ironic for a yoga teacher (it's not lost on me).  Space for Alisha to rest, find peace, relaxation, and free time that is desperately needed to nourish the body and soul.  Those are actually necessary to spur creativity, repair muscles and leave you energized enough to follow through on a demanding schedule.  Shavasana on the mat, shavasana in life, it's a must.

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What happens when you don't make room for Shavasana in life?  My body is often the signal that puts up a big fat stop sign and forces balance.  The pendulum swung hard this time to force me to stop as I spent the first 3 days of my vacation mostly in bed sore from the race on saturday and nursing the tail end of a cold that will NOT let up.  This year has been a trial, mostly created by my own doing.  There has been little space for rest, recovery, balance and shavasana.

I've been training for last Saturday's 30k since the beginning of the summer.  I struggled a lot during the training for The 2014 Salem Lake 30k.  Finding the time to run seemed more challenging than normal, and emotionally I may be hitting a wall juggling a business and full-time job.  Emotions like to bubble up in your running if you aren't addressing them.  It's just like yoga, you can't ignore reality, you can't push the truth out of mind especially if you are someone in touch with your body.   Have you ever found yourself in tears in shavasana for no apparent reason?  Yeah, that's just like when you have a crappy run, after a crappy run ALL  SUMMER LONG.  They are signs.   Recently the parts of life I try to push down out of mind (even though I know you can't do this) are popping up in my yoga, in my body, in my running.  That's why my running doesn't feel good, it's why yoga feels hard.  You can't hide from yourself.  There comes a time when you need a break, a rest, especially if those things aren't already a regular part of your day or your week.  the Shavasana of life is so important and if you don't get it your body will tell you.  Self time is not something I'm good at working into my own life.    Do you do this?  Do you tell yourself you are fine, you can handle more, you sign up for the PTA meeting, you join the board of the non-profit when you know you don't have the time for, you say yes to the extra project at work that isn't necessary to your job?  All of a sudden you've taken away any "you time" but you think "What the hell, I can handle it".

I knew the wall was coming.  There was some planning for a week off from my day job and subs for all of my yoga classes.  A full week off from the day job, even a plan to go away to the mountain for a most of that time.  So what's the problem?  I let myself get too depleted that when a rest was finally available, my body almost completely shut down.  This lingering cold threatening my dreams of long spells on the yoga mat by myself, shutting down dreams of slow recovery runs in the mountains.  This week I spent A LOT of time in bed.

It took me most of the week to recover, I got a slow bike ride and a slow run in, but mostly it was a prolonged rest, a prolonged Shavasana.  Maybe you can learn from my error?  If your body is talking to you right now, listen.  If you are tired find a way to rest, maybe take the restorative yoga class instead of the power flow. If you don't do it your body will find a way to do it for you.