Yoga Date- Convention Center Style

On Saturday I went on a “Yoga Date” with a friend of mine. We are both yoga teachers, and mothers, so usually our hang outs are with our children, and include diapers, trips to go “pee pee”, occasional tantrums, and conversations about how yoga has helped save us from complete and total mental breakdown. “I felt like I was going to pull out all my hair and then I did some  sun salutations and now I feel completely renewed.”

My friend Melissa, who teaches Paddleboard Yoga, had a couple of free tickets to an event in Fort Lauderdale called the “Yoga Expo”. I usually avoid the big festivals and events, preferring to practice alone, or outside, but free tickets and a kid free date with my friend, was something I was really looking forward to.

We met up early in the morning and after pushing through some heavy traffic and getting a little lost, we arrived at the  Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

On the ride down, I drank both coffee and a coconut water. Not a good idea. Because when we pulled into the parking garage, my full bladder was about to explode. There was no way I could make it all the way to the crowded bathrooms!! We giggled and I nervously found a place  in the parking garage to squat down and empty my bladder. Parking garage yoga-malasana pose! My friend shielded me with a yoga mat.. I joked that we would get arrested, and all the yogis would talk about the peeing yoga teacher in the parking garage. We didn’t get arrested. And I felt so much better.

At the expo, we were surrounded by  a few thousand yoga practitioners. Everyone walking around with yoga mats, going from class to class, shopping, and eating “yoga” food. After checking it out and feeling a little overwhelmed, it was time to practice. The event was huge, offering 6 to 7 classes every hour. All day. The classes were packed. Flourescent lighting. We were doing downward facing dog to Beyonce, Pitbull, and some very weird songs about heartbreak.

To be honest, it was hard not to “judge” the experience. The place. The Yoga fashion trend.  The noise! It was so loud.  Once again, I was presented with a big lesson. Tame the mind. Yogananda  wrote that in his early training, his teacher wanted him to go  deep into meditation, but Yogananda was being swarmed by mosquitos. He kept swatting them, getting agitated, and could not meditate. His teacher sat there looking peaceful, deep in meditation, unphased by the mosquitos. His teacher told him to train his mind.

It is easy to relax the mind when in a peaceful setting. The real work is to relax the mind when we are in an uncomfortable setting. Convention center yoga. Take out the tools, and calm the mind. When I was able to get deeper into my breath and be present, the judgement melted away. Yoga always teaches us.

After a couple of flow classes, and with very exhausted legs, my friend and I drove home in the late afternoon. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, of mainstream yoga culture.  And while we both agreed that there are things we don’t resonate with, we both acknowledge that the truly important thing is that more and more people are being introduced and drawn to yoga. So many people find healing through yoga.

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Post Convention Center Yoga 🙂

Yoga is a path and the wisdom of Yoga unfolds at a natural organic pace. . Even after 18 years since my introduction, I know I am still a beginner. I am still learning and being challenged everyday.

Yes, “yoga” is a huge trend.  And yes, there are problems with our mainstream yoga culture. But truth be told, beyond the expensive yoga clothes,  is the actual practice. A very personal and profound practice. A practice that can truly help heal the world. 

 

~Tiff

 

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Yoga: Stage Sailing

Yesterday morning, I woke up, made a cup of hot Yerba Mate, and got ready to teach a yoga class. I picked great music, created  some fun flows, kissed my family, and headed to class.

Every  Monday and Friday, at 9am, I  teach yoga at a theatre downtown. I teach in the dance studio, a rehearsal room that we Yogis lovingly call the “cave.” It has a large curtained window, beautiful wooden floors and a fully mirrored wall. There are often chairs and props in our practice space, but we barely see them. I set up a little altar, we turn off the lights, and we flow. We have really tapped into some magic in that cave. I love that space.

Anyways, yesterday when I arrived to teach, I tried to unlock the door to the studio, but it wouldn’t unlock. I tried and tried but the door knob was broken. Feeling defeated, my head and shoulders instantly dropped, and my mind sarcastically said “Oh GREAT!”

I kept trying to get the door to open. But, as student after student arrived, I realized our only option was to practice yoga on the main stage. I wrote a little note, saying the class was moved, put the note on the door, and we all headed over for “Stage Yoga.”It took a few extra minutes to get everything figured out. We had to figure out how we to fit everyone, making sure no one would fall into the orchestra pit. Adventure Yoga!! It turned out there was exactly the right amount of space. We almost always practice with music, but yesterday we practiced without music. It felt good to practice with only the sound of the breath.

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Even though it was completely unexpected to practice on the stage, with a sailboat behind us, and a sea of empty chairs in front of us, it was still fun. And enormously beneficial.

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It was different than we had all planned, but it was good. We had to let go of any expectation of how class should look, and enjoy it for what it was. Life. Sometimes we make these plans, and they don’t turn out the way we expected.  Modify. Breathe.  And Enjoy. 

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“Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

~Tiff

Half Moon With a Full Moon Behind

 

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It has been raining heavily the past few days. The ground is saturated. The yard is flooded. The trees are happy. We found the fun, the adventure, and the joy…. A little half moon yoga pose with a full moon behind.

Smile~Tiff

Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

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Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.”  He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to).  He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal.  He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change. 

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher,  I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel. Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.”  With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff

 

Earth Warriors

We have spent the past few days out of the city. We are staying and working in an Equestrian community in Wellington Florida.

We are planting hundreds of trees for close friends of mine who live out here. We are planting Indian Beech Trees, and while these trees are not native, they are beautiful trees with some really magical properties. The seeds in particular have a wide variety of uses and can be harvested a few years after planting.

Peaceful Planting
Peaceful Planting

The property we are staying on is huge, with a pond, a swimming pool, and a small Buddhist temple.

Temple
Temple

The other day we went on a long walk out here and I saw up close a large plot of land that was freshly clearcut… I felt so deeply sad and sick in my stomach.   After our walk, I worked extra hard, wondering why humans are so destructive, why we don’t see that what we do to the earth, we are actually doing to ourselves.. Then i realized, while someone was working to clear a forest, I have been working to help build one.

Balance

Lets be real, Earth is out of balance right now, and because of it we are all out of balance. And I see it. I feel it.  And it is scary and depressing. BUT we have the power to make a difference. We have to ask ourselves whether we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. (I look at my own life and I know there is more I can do to help)… Whether it is simply picking up garbage at the beach, planting trees, buying organic, local, or planting a garden. Live mindfully. It really is up to us.

I am much calmer and relaxed in the country. I love trees, the hawks, the deer, the owls at night..The energy..

I feel good about the work we are doing. Hands covered in dirt, butterflies flying by, shoveling until my arms burn and I can’t lift the shovel anymore… It is exhausting, a real workout, but it is rewarding. Therapy at its finest.. 🙂

Earth Warriors
Earth Warriors

With Gratitude for our Mother. ~Tiff

Kiss The Earth With Your Feet

So I am not really sure if it was me telepathically communicating with a gopher turtle, or me having a conversation with myself imagining what I would say, and how I would feel if I was a gopher turtle. And it doesn’t really matter.  But, the other day, while hiking through one of the last remaining wild scrub areas in all of Southeast Florida, I had lasting eye contact with a large gopher turtle. In our connection, I felt a moment when the turtle seemed to be looking deep into my soul,and truly asking me to wake up and help heal Earth. Almost a “Tiffany, you see what is happening,  if you aren’t going to change, who will?”

You may have never heard of a gopher turtle. I had never heard of them before I moved down here. But, anyways, they live in underground dens. The entrance to their homes has the same sort of warm welcome that a fireplace and a cup of tea share… the entrances are cute, tidy, and decorated..

Gopher Turtle
Gopher Turtle

These turtles are endangered species. Loss of habitat.

We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting
We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting “No Cutting Trees”

Anyways, we also saw manatees this week while kayaking in the mangroves. High tide, King Tide, the power of the moon. My daughters first time in a kayak, and she saw Manatees. So amazing.

Kayaking In The Mangroves
Kayaking In The Mangroves

Manatees are also endangered species.They are gentle, beautiful, graceful-And they need our help and protection.

I want to help. I am not writing with a ‘know it all’ solution, because I don’t have one. But I know, with every cell of my body and soul, that we have to start living with the Earth.

I know if we all search deep inside, we will figure out how to help heal our planet. Our mother. Ourselves. Each other.

We have to cultivate gratitude.. We have to “Kiss the Earth With Our Feet.”

 South Florida , Yoga On The Beach..
South Florida , Yoga On The Beach.. A great way to heal! “Kiss The Earth With Your Feet.” 

Happy November 1st, Day of The Dead. Messages all around. Listen. ~Tiff

Manta Magic

Yesterday I had an experience many people dream of. I swam with 17 giant Manta Rays.

Blessed by the Manta Magic
Blessed by the Manta Magic

One of my closest friends on this island is a dive master from the mainland of Portugal. She knew it was a dream of mine to see the Manta Rays, so she invited me to join their dive group and go explore under the sea.

I had no idea what to expect, or where we were going. I knew it was possible we wouldn’t see any Manta Rays at all. But if we didn’t see any, it would be fine. I was along for the ride. Which was beyond beautiful. 

We left the harbor at about 9:30am and headed out to our first dive spot, a place called ‘Joao Lopes’. There were 3 of us snorkeling (I took a dive certification course years ago, but because of ear problems, I cannot dive), the rest of the group was diving. This spot, about a mile offshore, was deep but we could still see the bottom. I swam around, looking at fish and trying to stay close to the boat, when I spotted my first Manta Ray. It was really incredible. She was huge! She swam near me, then past me. I swam as fast as I could, trying to follow as the graceful giant flew through the water.

We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio
We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio

I was smiling, feeling happy and peaceful when we headed to the next spot. A famous dive spot called ‘Ambrosio’. This spot is three miles offshore and in very deep water. Very deep, very blue.  At 45 meters deep (about 150 feet) even the divers did not go to the bottom.

The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance
The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance

The captain of the boat spotted them first, he stopped the boat and said quietly “Tiffany, get in the water right now, nice and slow” and as soon as I did, I was surrounded  by Manta Rays. They were swimming in a beautiful spiral formation. I was literally inside their magical circle.

Manta Rays in The Azores
Manta Rays in The Azores
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores

I was quiet on the boat ride back to the harbor. I felt a little seasick, but mostly I was just in awe, speechless. Nature.  So much magnificence.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ” – Albert Einstein

Adventure ~Tiff