What is yoga to me?

What is yoga to me anyway?

Lately I have been struggling with the true meaning of yoga. Is it a workout? Is it a choreography lesson? Is it meant to be fed to me? How do I feed others if I’m not clear about what it is? Where the hell is yoga going in 2019 in an America that is so divided? Why do people feel like they have to belong to one studio only and not another? What’s more important, the safety? The number of people in my class? The tone of voice I use? The color of my mat, my hair, my heart?

What the hell is happening to the yoga I fell for, the yoga that saved me, the yoga that stopped me from hating my differences and helped me love my beautiful messy artistic life?

SO here is what I have discovered.

Yoga for me is not about anything. It’s really about nothing. No goals. No #yogagoals. It’s about having a sacred place to lay it all down. Period. Lay. It. All. Down. Put the insanity aside, find a modicum of clarity and let the truth bubble up. The pure naked truth of who I am, where I am, and what I am and then sit with it a while. Just be with myself with no one looking. It’s one big messy dance of discovery. A dive into the depths of whatever is taking up space in my cerebrum, cerebellum and prefrontal cortex and then determining what stays and what goes. It’s a long slow walk into my own egoic humanity to uncover whatever happens to be there. In that moment.

I have gotten caught up in the daily dance of do-this, now do-this, now try-this and then throw my ass in bed at midnight, going over my gratitude list rapidly and begging all the Gods for more hours to manage all the mindless necessities of life.

Is that yoga?

For me the real yoga is about NOT setting an intention for my mat time.

For my life, yes, my mat? No

My mat is my sanctuary. It’s my place of willful worship. I get on my mat when I’m so churned up I can hardly breathe. I get on my mat when I am peaceful and prayerful and grateful. I get on my mat to find whatever the universe has for me that moment of that day. I get on my mat to find the connection that gets lost by overthinking, overdoing, over scheduling, over anything-ing. I get on my mat to bring it all home. To connect the dots of who I am. Heart. Soul. Spirit. Voice. I get on my mat to find out who I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Me thinking way too much!

Do you feel like your yoga has gotten out of hand? Is it turning into a space for fitness goals?

I’m interested in hearing where you are on your mat these days. I wanna hear about you, yep, sweet little you! So please leave a comment and share!

Now I’m getting on my mat! (oh, after I go to the dry cleaner…)


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Holy Hella Holiday

A few thoughts about handling the mayhem

I have no idea how in this crazy world to get all of it done.

Actually, I know that I can’t. So basically I feel like I’m starting with failure as the end game… but I may have a plan.

Being present with a teenager…

The theme this month at the yoga studio is “presence” or “belonging”. Somehow in my addled mind I see the two as similar sides of the same situation, and here’s why:

When you are fully present you feel belonging. You feel good in your own skin. You feel your breath. You get repeat reminders thru your day of how lucky you are. Gratitude flows and all the little pesky poop that holds you back somehow mysteriously fades into the ether. Flow state. Samyama. The final performance, not the tech rehearsal.

Yet when you are stuck back in the traffic jam on I-26 profanity flying because you didn’t make that last stop before you had to showed up for your brothers daughters childs’ 1st birthday party, you can hardly be present. You definitely don’t feel like you belong there… because you know that you really belong somewhere else, anywhere else. You feel me?

When the fates conspired to drop an unexpected obstacle right smack in the middle of your path, it takes all your Zen resources to remember that “the obstacles to the path are the path”. And when you’re busy working all your spiritual mojo to Be. Here. Now. you certainly don’t feel like you belong. No Flow state here. You feel more like an alien zombie medusa who’s only task is to beam down all the ghosts from your past that make you feel like you have seven heads and roll them across all of your perfectly laid plans at the most random intervals just to make you even more certifiable!

But wait…

Plans mean I’m thinking about the future. Thinking about the future means I’m not present. Not being present means I think I belong somewhere else…Not feeling like I belong leaves me feeling alone. Isolated. Unimportant. Unnecessary. It’s all an intertwined organic mess of life and feelings and people and beauty. {this is why I think belonging and presence are besties or worsties…}

So this time of year CANNOT be about getting it done. The greatest gift to give anyone is time. Honest, earnest time. Your time. Your precious time. Your precious limited time on this earth. Y.O.U. That is all the present anyone needs. Your full present moment presence. People need you and me slow the eff down and be with them. Not long. But long enough so they can feel that they belong.

Helping others helps us belong. Helping others shows us how even the smallest gesture means our presence has value. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the cultural societal posture of gift giving I’m going to stop the shopping and start the sharing of presence. Everyones deserves to feel that they belong. Everyone deserves your presence. Even you 🙂


Becoming friends with the darkness

I woke up  this morning in a pool of potential. I was surrounded by the guardians of fear, shame and unworthiness. My friends Brett Dennan, Natalie Merchant and of course Dave {Matthews that is} were on the outside looking in. They sang to me their songs of hope and encouragement. They tried to protect me by sharing their darkness to help me tease out my own light.

Somehow my ego got loose in a big way. Now how could that happen? I do as I have been told by the wise ones: I practice yoga, I meditate, I help others, I give to animal shelters. What more do I need to do to be set free from this feeling? This morning my ego decided that I am the only person that has ever felt this way. The only human who hasn’t lived up to the dreams and ideas that fill the heart and mind. My ego chose to rule this day. The battle ensued. Loneliness and heartache quickly closed the gap between my deeper knowledge and this momentary void. They shut me off from my gratitude and opened the flood gates of emptiness. Tears flowed like cheap champagne at a high school reunion as the pity party began.

I want so much from Life. There are some things that I will never have now. Those things have left big holes in the fabric of my Life. My ego is fighting to keep those spaces open, to keep me feeling empty. Life always finds a way to weave in beauty. I know that the exposures will be woven back together and the threads used will be made of the most sublime moments. That the final tapestry will be one of infinite beauty and quality. I know this. Yet still my ego wages this mighty war.                                                                                        IMG_5652

And so I sit.

I put my butt on my cushion and I begin again.

I breath. I think. I plan. I feel that awful emptiness.

I begin again.

I will sit with this feeling. I will dance with this feeling. It’s a tricky little number where I never really know who is leading and who is following…

I cannot escape it. We will become friends. It will take practice. It will feel familiar and then it will feel foreign. Feelings come and go. We get cut , we get bruised and yet we heal. Again and again.

I also know that I am not alone in this skirmish and this is why ego will not win this holy war. I believe we all face these moments.

If you are a believer please share your thoughts……….


Starting Over

It seems like now is the time!

I started this blog several years ago. A whole lot of water has gone under the bridge. I have learned a little bit more about people, life, yoga…My dear friend Daniel is constantly reminding me that I will be a ballerina forever, so I think it’s time I look seriously at yoga thru the lens of who I really am: a ballerina, an artist, a seeker, a spirit junkie….just plain old me. No different from you or anyone else. Here’s my journey.

It’s my dance thru life, one step at a time and sometimes, well quite a lot of times, with 2 left feet 😉

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Here’s how it all started:

I dropped into an Iyengar class in the People’s Republic of Cambridge. We did a pose for a while and then we would lie down to rest and see how it felt, ugh, I was 20 yrs old & I didn’t want to lie down and think about how I felt I wanted to keep going and going and going. And so I kept going as a professional ballerina with Boston Ballet. For 17 years my life was about being thin looking in the mirror & measuring myself against others, basically judgement with a large dose of self judgement. Despite that or because of that dancing was its own spiritual journey. 20160417 - Yoga Masala-70I was living every little girls dream but still searching for something more. When I turned 35 I quit. And it was not long after that I stumbled into my first hot vinyasa class. It was love at first savasana!!  Finally I had found something that focused my attention and challenged me physically. When I moved back home in 2007 there was great Anusara studio, but no great vinyasa and definitely no hot vinyasa! As my life  and my marriage began to unravel, my teacher Rolf Gates did what he lovingly refers to as “I commanded Kyra to open a studio”
So here I am… I had no idea that I would ever quit my “real” job to teach yoga, but I did! What I have come to realize is that this “job” of running the studio has always felt like home even in some of its most uncomfortable moments. I had no idea how much it would help me grow as a teacher but more importantly as a person. It has cemented in me the power of love. We can do anything we choose as long as we do it with love and do the loving thing. I love yoga with all of my heart. I love every person that walks thru the door that is brave enough to step on their mat. I love them for their courage. Some days it’s beautiful and easy and others it totally sucks. And each trip on the mat I remember what I have forgotten, love. Only love is real .

 


Creating Connection

Hi, my name is Kyra. I am 10.3 pounds over weight. I am addicted to all forms of social media. I am also addicted to yoga, Green and Black’s 85% dark chocolate and to micromanaging every emotion. I am single and hate it, but its better than sacrificing personal growth and communication for empty companionship.  I avoid my Mother because she always asks me to brush my hair. I realized just last week that I have something to share, that I have lived and worked and always followed my heart even into the darkest of places. I am ashamed that I think so little of myself.

So here’s the solution:

Since the death of my Father, I have had a really hard time holding it together. I’ve spent many hours alone, sad and feeling terrible for not appreciating how long I did have him. In my grief, I beat myself up about wanting more of him. He was 91! He lived an amazing life, but I want more.  Then I feel bad for feeling bad.

Immediately after he died, I got on my yoga mat looking for comfort. I am forever grateful for my teachers and students who let me slip in and slip out of classes. They gave me space to be as raw as I needed to be without interruption. But, I needed more. I am so blessed to have Rolf Gates as a dear friend, an amazing teacher and a true mentor. He called often to check in with me after Dad died. Many times I would see his call coming in and cry because of his kindness yet I couldn’t bring myself to answer the phone.

He mentioned a meditation retreat and it felt like the right answer. Sun, silence, yoga and someone else to do the cooking and cleaning. An escape to paradise but with a noble purpose. Just before I left, my dear sweet Haley mentioned reading Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection.” I’ve been a fan for years. We watch her TED talk in my teacher trainings. Recently I had even seen her Super Soul Sunday talk on trust. It was powerful stuff. Watch it here

I don’t even think Haley had finished reading the book before I swiped it out of her hands and hit the road to the airport. I started it on the plane. Yes!!! This was just what I needed. On both legs of my flight there was no one sitting next to me. The old me would have been delighted! The new me felt like the Universe was conspiring against me to force me out of my shell. I was really craving connection!! I wanted to share with someone anyone. I wanted to practice connecting before I got home so I wouldn’t screw it up and you know embarrass myself (sound familiar)?

I have realized that I am sick and tired of carrying around this image of perfection. Yes, I am blonde (or used to be..). Yes, I can be thinner than average(but not now). Yes, I was a ballerina. Yes. Yes. Yes. But how about the fact that I have so little value for who I am and what experience I carry in my whole being?  There are days that I cannot possibly think of one kind word to say about myself. And then there is my shame and fear of being found a phony. How about owning my story and sharing it? How about using all of the work that I have done throughout my life to help others feel more at ease in their own skin? How about, as my dear friend Nadia said one day long long ago “Let us see you cry. Stop pretending. Be real.”

I have spent the last week contemplating how to create connection. The conclusion I’ve come to is this: I cannot waste anymore of my life and energy hiding. It’s time to love myself with all my warts and wrinkles and open up to the real joy that is found in connection. I am running a year of creating connection on my Instagram. I would love for you to join me in connecting and sharing anything that moves you.

So here goes:                                                                                                                                                  Hi, my name is Kyra. I am 10.3 pounds over weight. I am addicted to all forms of social media. I am also addicted to yoga, Green and Black’s 85% dark chocolate and to micromanaging every emotion. I am single and hate it, but will never sacrifice myself again. I avoid my Mother because she always asks me to brush my hair. I realized just last week that I have something to share, that I have lived and worked and always followed my heart even into the darkest of places. My spirit animal is a sea turtle. I love all the people that practice yoga with me. They are brave and fearless. I experience real joy when they move on to other cities. My heart breaks a little when they leave but then grows bigger. It hurts but its a good hurt, like growing pains. I also talk too much………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do the One Thing

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My New Years intention has been to do just one thing at a time. As a Mother that is next to impossible. Throw on top of that owning a business with 2 locations, having children in 2 different schools with 2 different start times, an 89 year old Mother in mourning and one crazy beagle/pit mix! Oh yeah, and I’m single!

When my Father died, I became paralyzed as did all of us. There was this emptiness that pervaded everything. Where there were phone calls and text messages about this diagnosis and that doctors appointment there was silence. In the space of one breath we all had more time on our hands. I personally didn’t know what to do. It took me by surprise. I had not planned on it being so final and I am a planner. In the days and weeks immediately after he left us, I could only do the one thing. I was no where near able to teach. To guide others into a felt experience that is meant to be healing was off the table. All I could do was put clothes in the wash, make a cup of tea and hug everyone who stumbled onto my path. That was it.

As New Years approached, I realized that in my stunned and slow existence, my one thing at a time actually felt good. There was a sense of accomplishment because something was getting done and yet there was no anxiety swirling around me about needing to get it ALL done. In this semi concious state, less was most certainly more. It made sense. I was enjoying the small victories. I got dressed! I washed my hair! I folded laundry!

My Father spoiled all of us with his time. He always took the time to talk to us about anything we needed. When I was younger I used to say “I don’t want to talk about it now.” Of course now all I can think of is how much I would give for one more conversation. As I got older I would spend hours talking to him about politics, the value of a good liberal arts education, religion and dreams. I can’t thank him enough for the steadiness of his listening ear and open heart. As the dialysis strip mined his body our conversations lagged. He was exhausted after each skirmish with Fresenius. He could only do one thing at at time and he did it with his whole being. Some days we talked, others he slept. He did what he needed to do, one thing at a time.

As a ballerina I danced with my whole heart. To honor my Father and everyone in my life, I intend to continue this practice. This way of being. When we do the one thing we are committing to the moment and connecting to ourselves and others with our whole hearts. Since Life is one big beautiful dance, it’s time for me to start dancing again. Dancing with my whole heart.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the beauty and challenges of doing one thing at a time….


The Heart

The heart is the muscle that runs the whole organism. It beats, we beat. It stops, we stop. Is that why we use the shape of the heart to equate love? Is it because love is the “heartbeat” of life? Is it that without love we have no life, no breath, no way to live?

There are many types of love. I love them all. My precious daughters whose smiles, innocent remarks and hugs slay me. The love I have for my brothers who are forever surprising me as our relationships unfold with age. My Mother, my sweet little Mother who’s devotion to my Father was and is the greatest love I have ever witnessed. My friends whose love I feel across oceans and continents and their uncanny knack of knowing despite distance and years just when to reach out that hand to hold.

 

I loved a man recently.We seemed to have it all. Same age, children, passionate about work, creative, intellectual, respectful, devoted, worldly and between us enough scars and warts to humble us both. When my Father died my world was shattered and I ran. First I begged then I ran. I begged for arms to circle the God awful hole that was in my heart. When that didn’t work I pushed him away. He saw it and tried to stop it but I was already onto the next dance. I needed to feel my way into being me without my Father. I needed to heal. I needed all the love I could gather from the corners of the earth to hold me up. I needed the huge tapestry woven from the old friends compassion to hold me together until I could hold myself. The love I felt from so many people was the nourishment I needed. It gave me strength to grow roots into the soil of my new world.

Sitting by the shore I see repeatedly with imperfect precision the oceans unwavering love of the sand. The waves return again and again. Each time just a little different from the last. A dance like no other. A dance of steadfast commitment.

 

 

As a ballerina I was always changing roles. Just when something got comfortable it was on to the next. Our repetoire was ever changing and it was often years before we were given another chance at the same role. It seems I love that way too. Just when things get comfortable, I fall apart. I push them away. In lasting relationships you can’t do that. My friends, my brothers and my parents all managed to be like the ocean. Returning again and again. When my heart is heavy and sad I run to the ocean for its steady beat. Maybe I need to dive in………

What is love? How do you define love? Where does it begin and where does it end? How does it start? And does it ever really end? Would you share your thoughts on love?