Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yoga Teacher Training

JP Hand Straight sample

A little over 2 years ago I took my first Yoga class. My cousin Heidi invited me on whim, because she had heard from a friend that it was free that night. I was skeptical, but I decided to go based on that fact that it would be a slightly physical, mostly social event (and because I love Heidi). 

I had spent most of my years running and hiking, searching for a phsyical high.  Having just finished my first (and last) marathon, in my mind, pain and long lasting endurance were what made your mark. 
"Yoga people" made me laugh. In the first place, I couldn't touch my toes. But mostly the thought of bending and stretching into poses for over an hour was a ridiculous idea, and eccentric, incense burning yogi's, were not my kind of people.

I spent that first evening on my mat, shaking in downward dog, pleading with the clock to speed up, praising child's pose, and laughing at my inability to hold ANYTHING. I was amazed at the grace in the postures, and (quite obviously) amazed at how much strength they required. It was one of the most challenging workouts I had ever done, and yet left feeling like I had just done something really nice to myself. After that night, I just kept on going.

2 years later aka: last month I decided I would enroll in The Yoga Underground's Teacher training course...and my world got ROCKED.

It's a 5 week, 6 hour a day course, and with my little babe at home, a pretty big commitment to make. I of course had plans to become a yoga teacher, but if I didn't have a knack for it I thought worst case scenario: I improve my practice, whip my body into shape (just in time for swimsuit season), oh and get a great tan. While some of the above did happen, what I ended up leaving with was so, so much more. 

Whether you do yoga strictly for the physical benefit or not, the internal benefits start to creep their way in. during our 5 week course we were required to practice twice a day- which was a lot, compared to my usual  4 day a week regime. As my physical body began to deteriorate and rebuild, so did the rest of me. I felt the parts of me that are more rigid and structured break down, compassion came easier, defense mechanisms slowed. 

After becoming aware of the inner changes that were taking place, I began my quest of condensing down and making logical sense out of how and why 1,000 year old postures were transforming me. In class, we learned a lot of things...Chakras, energy, anatomy, and indian philosophy. We learned about how to be authentic as teachers, the balance of health, the importance of ethics and the importance of honoring everyone's journey.

I learned that the first step in breaking down the EGO is becoming vulnerable. Yoga, by nature is progressive. There is never this epic moment of arrival. When this truth began to sink in, it was met with instant humility. Some of the most genuine moments I experienced with my group, were in instances like these where I let my guard down. And it's like everyone can tell. They feel the real you come out, and it's unmistakable. 

But even after all of that, I still didn't feel like I had come to a concrete conclusion as to why Yoga had the power to sculpt a person from the inside. Eventually I stopped worrying about why, and how, and began to view yoga as a celebration of life on the mat. I began to recognize that what was happening on my mat closely mirrored what was happening in my daily life. The way I handled challenges in life were similar to the way I handled difficult postures in my practice. If I was anxious one day, or stressed, it would show up on my mat. And I wondered if I could reverse the effect...If I could begin to transform what was happening in my practice, maybe the transformations would show up in my day to day life. 

Then one day I came across this: 
"There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness, and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening.
 And what is that one thing? It is mindfulness centered on the body." -Buddha-

There it was. The body. The body is the home of the soul, and the mind. Everything that is us, is written on, or in this vessel that we have been given. We use it for essentially everything we do. We use it to love, to serve, to think, to feel. When we are mindful of our body, we are present. We are experiencing everything that is happening to us at that moment, opening to floodgates to inspiration, intuition, and authenticity. To me this is yoga, the synching of the body, mind, and spirit. 

As I began to be more aware, I felt my practice change. Poses that I had always disliked became easier to me, and some, I even looked forward to. I also felt the results of my consciousness transcend into my life at home. Obviously not everything has changed, I still have a long way to go, and will always have things to work on, but the connection between the physical and the subconscious is real. And whether you get there through yoga, or some other path the pay off is there.

 I feel happier, lighter, hopeful and at peace.

My Yoga Group: Eric, Jill, Angie, Brittany (instructor), Me, Carson (don't mind the spoon- long story)

There is something about the Ebb and flow of Yoga that reels you back in. Something in the poses that hits an intrinsic chord. For a long time I didn't know what that was, I just kept showing up to my mat, week after week. And maybe that's all we have to do. Maybe in life we just keep showing up, we try to lead good lives, we try to be good people. Whether we choose to question or not, we might end up at the same destination if we can somehow find a way to let our authentic selves lead the way.

Photography and Video by Eric R Ward Facebook:http://on.fb.me/yjBH5k Instagram:http://instagram.com/a4gpa@a4gpa

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cinco De Mayo

JP Hand Straight sample

One of the first and things Chris and I found out that we had in common when we were dating is our love of mexican food.
I think throughout the whole first year we dated, we ate at Del Taco everyday, and Breakfast burritos every single morning. 
I'm pretty sure that sealed the deal for the both of us.
It's no coincidence that Casamiento (rice and beans) literally means "Marriage" in the Spanish language.

Chris and I have started our own tradition to throw a Cinco de Mayo party every year. This year, the holiday landed on a Sunday. Since every Sunday we have dinner at Grandma's house with all the cousins, we decided to bring Grandma's dinner down to our place. The Hansen clan is where my mexican food lovin originated from. 2 generations of mexican restaurants later...I assure you there could not have been more appreciative guests. 

Get ready for picture overload:
(Sadie, this hysterical figurine couple doing the Paso Doble is for you;)

Christian, our Guacamole man. sporting the logo from our Grandpa's first mexican restaurant.

Madi & Arch

Chris served a mission in Honduras (when we first met, I thought   Honduras was in Mexico-still haven't lived that one down). In Honduras he learned some pretty cool skills- like how to build a stove from a trash can, and make his own corn tortillas.

It's pretty sexy. let's be honest.

Aunt Diane, wooing babes

Yours truly

Mom & Dad

Kali & Patrick

Sarah & David

Ryan, Terry, Mom, Austin

Sydney & Davis

Grandma & Kate

Jeff & Aurielle

Em & Mills

When you spend all day cooking and getting your house ready, other things have to be sacrificed...like your hair looking good.
Then Sydney who is an awesome cook, brought these AMAZING Tres Leche Cupcakes...with Mustaches.

Above: Chris Rigging the Pinata

Below: after all the girls had a go at the pinata, this lovely lady stepped up to bat. She said:
 "Swinging at a pinata tells a lot about a person you know" ...

(thanks Terry for the awesome pics)

Until Next year!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amelia turns One!

JP Hand Straight sample

Our little Mills turned ONE.

She turned one on Earth Day, which is fitting since her daddy has a green thumb and love affair with mother nature.

We celebrated by throwing her the most chaotic party that most likely has ever been attended... the natural consequence of packing 23 people in a small house, 
and then 
inviting the neighborhood kids.

PS: Please excuse my horrible collaboration of picture editing- undergoing some unsuccessful experiments.

^^Do not be fooled by these pictures^^.
  It was crazy.
  I assure you.
Caitlyn & Jen
Kali & Patrick

Mom & Grandma
Tiff, Will & my man MAX

Em & Ry
James, Madi and Archer babe

Somehow we missed a picture of Sadie, Kc, and Olive (Most likely because Olive was screaming bloody murder due to the chaos that surrounded her), and the Giles fam.
Amelia, stoked on her Minnie Mouse, picked out especially by her boyfriend Nixon.

First Birthday called for an oversized,overstuffed, ginormous lion.

This is obviously our first child.

Below: Amelia's reaction to a room of 20 something people singing Happy Birthday to her...

Ya, she didn't care.

This was also her first time eating cake (or sugar at all for that matter). Also a very nonchalant reaction. Who is this child of mine? 

 And THISSSSS (below) is what my house looked like afterwards. 

 Anything for that little one year old of mine.

Happy Birthday Amelia Bear. We Love you to the moon and back!XOXO