Friday, October 19, 2012

Women in Rwanda

I'm not sure if I ever really wrote a post regarding the women of Rwanda and what they are doing. I looked for a post to which I could link this and realized there wasn't an appropriate one. So, I'll just start from scratch. 

In the time I spent in Rwanda, I was mostly with "the ladies" as I call them. I'm sure that you have seen Fair Trade websites or you've seen the African Baskets sold at Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Most of these are made by women in "cooperatives". They come together a couple of times a week and make goods by hand. Each country has a trade or craft of their own and Rwanda is known for it's necklaces made out of calenders. 

They cut the calenders into triangular pieces, roll them into a bead and dip them into some type of coating substance to create necklaces, bracelets and earrings

They also make clothing and baskets

 This sign, which means blessing, was made from banana leaves

This lady was amazing!

a little bit of everything

soccer balls which the kids do play with

During the week, we visited 3 different cooperatives

 These were the HIV Ladies - they all have HIV and come to the medical clinic to get their medicine

These women were a Gender Based Violence group. The lady on the left introduced herself to me and told me she had been raped at the age of 16 years old

These ladies were a mixture, many of them just poor. 

I learned so much from these women and value the experience I had very much. I can't really put into words how much this experience changed me as a person. I loved meeting them so much and I want them to be successful so I have decided to bring back some of their necklaces to try to sell them. 

Please let me know if you'd like to buy any of these necklaces or if you'd just like to donate money. These women use the money to feed their families, to buy health insurance which only costs $5 a year, one is saving up to go to college, etc. 

I realize times are tough but I promise that by giving, you will receive ten fold. Many religions support that argument, and I believe that when the Bible talks about tithing, it does NOT just mean giving money to your church, but also to help those in need. That is more of a Catholic concept than Protestant but let's remember that these people are not giving up lost opportunities, they are doing the best they can with what they have. Some of the women walk 2 hours every day to come to the cooperative meeting place, work for several hours, then go back home to care for their family. Any help would be appreciated greatly by these women. 

Please contact me if you'd like to give or if you'd like to buy a necklace.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Extension of Yesterday

I realized that I didn't get to finish my thoughts from yesterday so I thought I would do that today. As I was saying, I've always been in search of the end result without wanting to take part in any of the process. I somehow believe that the end result is going to bring me the happiness I so desire, but the process will not. I think that I have just always been wrong in thinking that completing certain goals and saying I checked off a certain box will somehow complete my life.

Some examples:
*If I make a certain amount of money, then I will feel like ______
*Once I can run a half marathon in this amount of time, I will be happy
*If I weigh ____ much, then I can feel okay with myself

This list could go on and on and while I'm saying this about myself, I feel strongly that most people are this way which is why we have get rich quick schemes and an entire diet industry built on the hopes that people continue on that path. What would those companies/industries do if we just enjoyed the process and did things in the appropriate way?

How I can relate that to yoga is exactly what I was discussing yesterday. I would go into a hot yoga class, have a set expectation of where I should be and push myself to get into poses that while, yes, I could do them, but was it what I should have been doing, no. One thing I've learned is that every class is an opportunity to push myself a little over my own edge and by doing that, I'm building a foundation that is very strong. I can't watch a yoga video such as the one below and then attempt to do those things. I don't know how long that person's been practicing and in reality, if I will get to where she is.

The question I ask myself now is this: let's pretend that I can now do every pose in the video exactly as she's done it - then what? A lot of things I want and desire are such a fantasized idea that I've romanced but in reality, won't do anything differently for me than what I've got now. And this is so beyond just a yoga class, it's just easy for me to relate it to that. For example, I've saved up the amount of money that I NEVER thought I would save up BUT somehow thought would bring me a life so secure and fulfilled, I'd finally be satisfied. Guess what - no it didn't. I finally reached a weight that I felt was "good" and guess what, not only was I not happy, but I was more miserable than I had been at a heavier weight. What was the lesson that I learned?

1) Acceptance of where I am
2) I must find joy in the process
3) Happiness doesn't come from an achieved goal

Because I feel secure in myself from an internal place, it's easy for me to accept where I am in life. I'm really find with where I am and I realize that my situation could change at any point BUT my happiness doesn't have to. Why, because I am in control of that. I can choose my mood any time of the day, any day of the week. I also can appreciate the process and where I am in it. I have short term goals, I have long term goals and I may reach some of them or I may realize I don't need them and can change my mind. But no matter what, I can learn that whatever process I go to get there will be necessary. It just makes it so much easier to say, yeah, I'm find with it. What other choice do I have? 

By taking those expectations off of myself and understanding that there are certain steps I need to take to get to a goal, I can hold back a bit in that yoga class, accept that right now, I am going to be this weight, have to give up that thing I want for the bigger picture. And while it's taken me 32 years to figure that out, I'm grateful that I did now and not at 62 because as much as I've struggled and grappled with my mind over that time, I think it would suck if I had to do it for that many years. UNLESS that was part of the process :)

Namaste y'all :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Back to Basics

In 2010, after years of flipping back and forth, I started a regular yoga practice. At the time, I was very into running and fitness, so I gravitated towards the fad of hot yoga. I think my thoughts were that, it's okay for me to be doing something as slow as yoga as long as it's powerful, I'm pushing myself and it's hot as crap. I was still at a point where I felt like, I must be pushing myself to the limits every day, otherwise, I'm not worthy in some way. It sounds weird saying it, but how many Type A personalities feel like if they're not competing in every aspect of their lives, they somehow aren't living up to the expectations that they put on themselves? I don't think it was just me.

Fast forward to today and find that I'm happy just walk/running and doing yoga and one can see what I call growth (although if you're still caught in that Type A trap, you may not agree). I don't say that in a condescending way, I just mean that some people my have a different perception of what I'm about to discuss.

In these classes, I got a lot of benefits just like you do in any yoga class. I was able to focus my mind, stretch my body, etc. I took the approach that I need to do every pose offered and that I ALWAYS needed to be pushing for that next pose. I think the reason that became a challenge was because I was not listening to my body and I sometimes sacrificed building a foundation in order to reach a certain pose. Throughout my extensive workout career where I've tried pretty much everything, the thing I've discovered most is that having the foundation is very important in preventing injury. I started thinking about that idea this morning and realizing that I not only followed that pattern in working out, but also in everything else. I've always had a desire to reach a certain goal or destination without first putting in the work to get there. I want to have the end result and skip the process that goes along with it. With work, there were times when I was frustrated that I hadn't been able to push my career along to the next step, but I wasn't making the appropriates call to get there. I felt frustrated by the fact that I did the first step and failed. I wanted to be perfect from the very beginning.

As I've continued on my yogic path, I am now finding solace in not being perfect in a class. I am enjoying coming to the mat and acting as though this is something I've never done before. Over the weekend, I tried to listen to every direction that Liz gave. I loved the simplicity of the class, the focus on the breath, the movement and the foundation. It inspired me to make some changes in my own teaching because it's so easy, even now, for me to want to challenge my students in a physical way. In my mind, I think, I want to give them the opportunity to learn the next step and to push themselves but maybe what I want to challenge them to do is to push their minds and push their breath work. I want to make sure that they're building a strong foundation because in the perfection of the simplicity is where we can start to try different things.

My intention for the week is to teach in that specific way - my class is going to focused on the breath, simple poses, and meditation during movement. I'm excited to see how that goes! If you're in the area, I'd love for you to come and give me feedback. I'm teaching at 6 am at Yoganize on 2105 Old Spartanburg Rd, Greer, SC.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prama Yoga Retreat

This past weekend, I went on my very first yoga retreat with Greenville Yoga's Liz Delaney. We traveled to little place in Western NC called the Prama Institute. It was a weekend of yoga, vegetarian food and socializing.

this was a cute little entrance leading you the facility - I took this pic on my hike

this was the institute from the road - again on my hike

We arrived Friday evening where we got settled quickly and had a yoga class at 5:30. It was a gentle flow class but in reality, not so gentle. The thing I love about Liz's classes (and Brian's as well) is that breath is the most important and the movement comes second. The movement is very slow and calculated, so you would think you wouldn't be out of breath or your heart rate wouldn't elevate, but it does. The breath work and the movement 1) raised my heart rate and 2) raised my heat level. It's the kind of class where I can close my eyes the whole time and when I'm done, I feel like I've just finished an hour and a half meditation. Very nice. 

We ate dinner after and it was DELICIOUS! I should've taken pictures of the food because it was all very delicious. They have  gourmet chef there who cooks everything vegetarian. We had gluten free cupcakes that were absolutely amazing!

here is Sharon, the chef. She has a program at the end of the year

We had a morning flow class again and then some free time. Everyone was talking about a little hike they took, so i decided to give it a shot myself. And for whatever reason, I REALLY wanted to go by myself. I think partly because I was kind of scared to go by myself. I wanted to test my ability to trust my intuition and build confidence in my ability to do things by myself. I'm fairly independent BUT I don't like to venture out much on my own simply because I'm afraid of not knowing what to do. So while it seems really easy to just go off by yourself and hike during the day, I was actually a little nervous. The hike ended up being so great and I found 3 different trails that I followed. I took lots of pics, but here are some of my favs. 

I was totally fascinated by all the pretty wild flowers

this was a different trail I didn't take but looked very cute

I loved this old structure, there were a bunch like this

I saw a hawk here but it was too fast & really it scared the beejezuz out of me

the grassy knoll and I somehow missed the first trail but found the second time

We had a couple of other yoga classes that were amazing, some delicious food and then set off to return home. Overall, I had a great experience and highly recommend a yoga retreat to anyone. It's a great way to get recharged and away from all of the responsibilities of home. I loved bonding with different women and doing things that were positive and healthy for my body. 

the group - I'm in the bottom right, with the black sweater and purple top 

Lynne, who is an awesome yoga teacher and Liz, who is very fun

Liz, the owner of greenville yoga and I after my hike