yoga pirate…

{October 30, 2009}   yarrrr…me harties!

yoga pirate funny pixyoga pirates are everywhere… have a great halloween…


{October 27, 2009}   fresh and tasty…

my asana practice is feeling just a tad past date, not moldy, but just a bit stale.  i start with mountain pose and a front fold chest opener…triangle to warrior II, to extended side angle….and on for about 45 minutes …i am more interested in deepening the poses i already know, investigating what my essential, basic poses bring.   i am not naturally bendy, limber, pliant or flexible…the possibility of me doing a wheel pose any time soon is close to nil.  i know my current limitations.  so i stick with what i know.

so doing some variations to my basic routine is now necessary because this week i am having a tendency to avoid getting to my mat…it’s amazing what skill i have in creating diversions or excuses.  it is pretty normal, i think.  a bit of boredom can be either a downer or a fire under my butt.   i just purchased  judith lasater’s 30 essential yoga poses…i like how it is for beginners and teachers…i have been using it to create more of a class-like atmosphere in my living room. the future teacher in me like this.  the eternal student finds it engaging.

i almost used cooking dinner as an excuse tonight.  i snuck in a 20 minute routine before i got out the cheese and corn torts and made enchilada casserole…

put a layer of green chili enchilada/burrito sauce on bottom of deep dish casserole or pie pan.  rip up corn or wheat tortillas and line the bottom.  layer spinach , cheese and chicken you’ve sauted with mexican spices like cumin and chili powder.  pour more sauce .  then add another layer of ripped torts, another layer of spinach, cheese and chicken, and add sauce.  do your final layer of tortillas, a generous layer of sauce and cheese.  bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes.  you can substitute tofu for chicken, add a layer of refried beans,  use picante salsa for enchilada sauce… that’s the beauty of a casserole–whatever you’ve got, you use…


my enchilada casserole (almost) diversion

maybe i’ll go wash the dogs now…

how do you keep your practice fresh?  how do you keep diversions to a minimum?

i love music…i mean, who doesn’t…music means different thing to each one of us.  some just turn on the radio, taking pot-luck from the dj’s.  others are very picky, only listening to one genre. i listen to everything from heavy metal to acoustic to alt rock and jazz…i love hip-hop and like a tiny bit of country.   it feeds me, nourishing a deep place.  i used metal to escape back in my teens.  i learned to drum world music in my thirties. and now i play music when i practice asana.

in many yoga classes, the musical sounds of sitar and chanting are ubiquitous.  i hate to be out of step here but i think most of it sounds like muzak…it literally makes me  cringe.  i often come home and shake my head saying to my husband, “great class…hated the music.”  to me it’s distracting, leaving a  bland pablum taste in my mouth.

don’t get me wrong…i like world music…i am getting a new ipod to dedicate to yoga music…i’m working on a playlist that includes such artists as mark isham, killswitch engage, oregon and u2…

here is shilpa shetty, bollywood actress, in a fun, active song video i like that is uplifting. i like the image around 1:02 that shows her  sitting quietly while others swirl around her…that is how i feel when i  use music to center myself…

i don’t always play my ipod station when i practice. sometimes i just want to quietly turn inside–life can be stimulating enough without mental noise ( and my head can be so noisy!)  other times i use music to actually center my self…i am listening but not listening, if that makes sense.  and often, just the right song inspires me to do one more down dog, plank, cobra series…even tool, one of my favorite bands, finds it’s way into the queue.

do you listen to music while practicing home?  what is on your playlist?  or do you just like to hear nothing but the breathing of the guy next to you at class?  how about the music your teacher choses? how does music affect your asanas?

{October 20, 2009}   avocation, employment, calling…

after four weeks, i am returning to work on thursday.  besides a good week and a half of pain and surgical recovery, it has been just what the nurse ordered.  i’ve spent a lot of time with yoga books, magazines and websites.  the concept of seva, selfless service, has popped up over and over.  i believe this can be the basis of my avocation, the goal of my employment and the foundation of my calling…

i came to nursing later in my young adulthood, having apprenticed as a home birth midwife. then i received my bachelors in english, made my millions with it and decided to go into healthcare, the job that is recession-proof and will  never be out of business.

now i’m firmly in middle age.  having been a nurse for 6 years now, i find myself drawn to the end of the spectrum of life: geriatrics and , more specifically, death and dying.  i worked for the local hospice for three years and am now on the oncology unit.  this is my calling.  my avocation as of late has been studying for my certification in hospice and palliative care nursing…more alphabet soup to put behind my professional name.

when people are dying, they are at their most vulnerable, their most real, their most human place.  it doesn’t matter how egotistical, rich, accomplished, nasty, mediocre or kind they have been up to this moment, dying often pulls away the identity to reveal the true self.  i witness and i receive.  it is a two-way street of service.  ‘

lately, however, this has become a J.O.B. for me.  it has lost some lustre, some juiciness, richness that feeds me.  this time away from work to heal my surgical wounds has also meant i could use the break skillfully to reach for more meaning in my employment,  to remember that end of life nursing is a chosen avocation of mine.

seva, compassion in action, is not always easy nor fun.  let me tell you there are a few very not fun parts of nursing.  but helping others always brings more than what’s expected.  the word seva can become a mantra i use when i must be in three places at once when i’m on the floor working my butt off.  the work of burning off karma is a good thought . being grateful to the patient i am serving for the opportunity to burn this karma off is a reminder of  the goal of being selfless. this is  even in the face of him being an ungrateful *^%#!

well, i’ll see how this all flies when i’m actually up at 0430 on thursday, all bleary-eyed and happy from my morning asana practice and meditation, and in my scrubs, driving my 25 minute commute into town…in theory it sounds great….in practice? that’s why they call it practice.

in what ways do you practice selfless service? do you voluteer?  help a neighbor? donate to a good cause?  here are just a couple of ways you can channel this energy…

{October 18, 2009}   ahimsa and rosemary fries…
(now, let’s be clear– i’m not a sanskrit expert nor do i play one on tv –but let’s talk)
the upanishads that are dated around 7-8 centuries before the time of jesus (bce)… the concept of ahimsa or   non-violence is presented.  it became part of buddhism, hinduism and jainism; each one has  developed their own take on what non-violence means…
pantanjali  offered ahimsa as the first yama, or restraint.  this, the first limb of the yoga path, reads: Upon being established in non-hurtfulness, there is a relinquishing of hostility in the presence of that.-Patanjali Yoga Sutras ii:35

and from what i can tell, this yama has many layers.  the first, most obvious perspective is the non-harming of others…any major religion has its own rules requiring a person to not hurt another by coveting, stealing or murdering.  the Quran has it, the Bible has it and  the golden rule implies this doctrine.  even my getting pissy with the cashier at whole foods the other day is not only harming my interaction with him, it harms me. (sigh)

i am practicing non-violence toward myself.  how many times during my day do i chastise myself by negative self-talk? when i become aware of these samkaras or fabrications,  now i attempt to treat me like i would treat  friends…would i say “man, you are so stupid for forgetting your lunch at home” to a co-worker?  no.
what about  non-violence in asana practice…do i push a bit too far in janu sirsasana so that pain is the main sensation, berate myself for not being able to make it to a complete, picture-perfect pose and risk injury? i’ve done it and i venture to guess you may have too…it comes back to awareness.  i would not judge my yoga class mate for not doing a pose perfectly so why treat myself to such harmful thoughts.
then there is the never-ending discussion in the yoga community: vegetarian vs. omnivore.  i have been everything from macrobiotic, raw foods, vegan, and carnivore…my diet could always be better (she says, wiping away the  potato chip crumbs from her chin)…some diets have made me feel better than others.  i don’t have a big, loaded proclamation  to add to this discussion but can ask this: does what you’re eating right now harm your body?  how about the earth?  can you choose to eat humanely raised meat?  how does your diet uplift you?  let me know because i’m always learning…
rosemary fries

rosemary fries

cut into large slices two large yellow potatoes and two large yams.  place in bowl with 1/4 c. water, 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp. rosemary.  stir until coated.  place in oven set at 425 on a cookie sheet (i use tin foil underneath) for 30-40 minutes or until completely cooked and somewhat crispy.


{October 17, 2009}   holla mala..

back when i was in my early 20s and a crunchy pagan hippie chickie, i thought mantras were weird (snap).  i really didn’t understand the meaning; thought sounding out words in an ancient language was either stupid or snotty (that was probably a projection, eh?).

in doing some studying, i find that mantras are just another tool for focused meditation, a way to sharpen the mind for  quiet reflection…as i have begun to use a simple one,  it has helped me settle my mind so i can sit longer and with more connection with my breath.

i use the mantra so-ham, said so-hum, meaning I am That. i am That which is ever-present. the neutral, stable, the quiet…far from the land of samskaras.
in order to organize my chanting, i made a mala…108 turquoise-dyed agate beads with a buddha bell on the end as my guru bead with tassel…(i got that off a  wind chime).  i love it!  it has a good weight in my hand. i almost made one of cheaper wooden beads but knew i would like the heftier presence of natural stone…

mala making at the breakfast bar

mala making at the breakfast bar

i quietly chanted so-ham while i strung the beads on fishing line…it made it more of a ritual for me (being an ex-pagan grrl and all)…

what do you do to focus your mind in your sitting practice?  what mantra do you use and why?  ever made a mala?

{October 16, 2009}   yoga spa day…

be careful what you ask for…

about three months ago i was totally burned out at work…ready to pack it in, change jobs, go back to school and become something else…i told mr. pirate how much i would like to take a leave of absence in october…oh, about three weeks ago i had emergency abdominal surgery  for a ruptured ovarian cyst.  they took another unruptured cyst and, while they were at it, my appendix……i am beginning my fourth week away from work and remain blissed out…

so, this week i organized a spa day for myself, a day-long yoga retreat spent at home,  and today was the day… i got the idea from the ethers then saw an article in YJ about aaaalll the great yoga retreats there are around this planet i cannot afford

…well, i put two and two together and came up with the answer…exotic ault colorado would do.

here is the schedule i went by:



0630-0645 MEDITATION


paris tea from harney and sons tea company

paris tea from harney and sons tea company


0830-0915 RUN


1015-1115 YOGA

1115-1215 LUNCH

1215-1245 WALK

1245-1300 MEDITATION

1315-1415 YOGA

1415-1500 READ AND TEA

1500-1545 NAP

1545-1600 MEDITATION

1600-1630 YOGA

here is my asana schedule that i devised…

1st hour






2nd hour




Last half hour


i went for a long run in the early air…i ate whole grains, fruits and vegetables…i read uplifting, yoga-related articles in the late fall sun…and a nap, a glorious nap…

i have every intention of doing this every quarter to fill up my tank that oncology nursing empties…have you ever done a yoga retreat? how about a spa day? did it revitalize you or just drain your wallet?

{October 15, 2009}   ahoy…

long ago and far away, when i was a freshman in college living with my fresh-faced boyfriend, i taught myself yoga from richard hittleman’s yoga: 28 day exercise plan , a 1969 classic i got at a garage sale…i went through, day by day, following  the step-by-step photos of the skinny blonde girl in a leotard doing what i thought looked pretty easy at first…the practice snuck up on me like ill-fitting panties…by day #9 she showed me something i had no experience with–agni sara, or what he calls “abdominal lift…”  by day 27, we are full-on doing pranayama work with alternate nostril breathing kriya technique…brilliant and accessable…

fast forward (doesn’t life seem to fast forward when you get to a certain age) to now.

setting intention for this blog…investigate local, northern colorado  yoga, get real,  and share where the treasure map takes me…

a bit about the pirate allusion…i enjoy the image, romanticized as it is, of the adventurous  high-seas pirate…they’re tough, rebellious, have tattoos, are free to roam and search for hidden treasures…and always on the lookout for the next booty score…not that kind of booty score…

tibetan buddhism sometimes refers to nirvana  as the jewel in the lotus, a hidden treasure waiting in plain sight if we only quiet the mind, follow the map and breathe…it is this treasure chest i am in search of, just like you…so, breathe.


et cetera