The Yoga Trapeze

For as long as I can remember I have loved being upside down. As a school girl I loved hanging upside down on the monkey bars, or hanging one leg over a metal rail and twirling myself around on the one knee while pushing myself off with the other leg. As a cheerleader and gymnast my favorite routines involved cartwheels, and as a yoga student I love inversions.

Years ago I saw an ad for an inversion table and have always wanted one.

inversion table

I never purchased one, but recently I came across a product that I think is even better.

The Yoga Trapeze:

yoga trapeze

As you can see, I’ve hung it from the beam in my living room.

I discovered this item through an ad on Facebook and immediately went to their website, YogaBody Naturals.

Set up was a breeze – all it took to connect it to the beam were a couple of eye hooks and caribiners. Before I knew it I was inverted:

yt 3 - Copy

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Inversions are only one of many exercises that can be done with the Yoga Trapeze, though it’s the inversions that sold me. I can comfortably stay inverted for about 5 minutes and have been doing so two or three times a day since the trapeze arrived. My neck feels great (I had been contemplating a visit to the chiropractor when the trapeze arrived), and my back feels good. I am working on loosening my shoulders and upper back and practicing supported back bends so I can feel more confident in wheel pose in my yoga classes.

I am excited about trying the many other opportunities available with my new trapeze. And sometimes, the new perspective one has when upside down can help one see life a bit differently.

First Trail Ride of the Season

Woohoo! It sure felt great to get out on the bike and ride the trails last weekend.

Kingdom Trails have opened for the 2015 season and they are in great shape. The trails are in much better shape than I am. But that’s okay. I’m a girl with goals.

Let’s just say I’ve been lax all winter. Sure I’ve done some yoga. And some more yoga. But mostly I did work, and reading, and watching television, and work, and reading.

Let’s just say my biking muscles are not exactly ready to tackle Moose Alley. My mind is in the right place, though, and I am ready to get in shape for this biking season.
Trail ride 1
This is a tiny hill I’m climbing, but on day one, after a lax winter, even the tiny hills seem mountainous.

My goal is to conquer the big hills. My other goal is to drop one pant size (or two). I will start small. Conquer the tiny hills, drop one pant size.

There are a few wonderful things about riding the bike trails.

1. You are out in nature. Fresh air, plenty of trees, sunshine, a breeze. . .
White School

2. The exercise you’re getting is always different. Up a hill, down a hill, through a field, through the woods, past your neighbors, over some roots and rocks, across a bridge. . .diversity!
bridgesbridgesbridges

3. Despite what the parking areas all over town look like on any given weekend, the trails are pretty darn quiet. Rarely do we encounter many other riders. An occasional one or two here or there, but for the most part, when we ride we see very few other riders. (Of course, we do try to avoid riding on weekends throughout the summer).
Trail

4. There is usually something interesting to see, somewhere along the route. On this first day we discovered what must be a coyote feeding area. There was a great deal of sign of a deer carcass and along the trail coyote scat.
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We also saw our first butterflies of the season and visited with some neighbors who were out planting trees.

If you’re looking for some exercise why not explore mountain biking. It’s accessible to most everyone and is a most enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

It’s That Time of Year!

Finally, finally, finally we had a moon bright night with relatively warm temperatures.

This motivated Dave and I to do our annual snowshoe hike up Burke Mountain Saturday evening.

We have been replicating this adventure for several years – a tradition that began in our early courting days.

Here’s the deal:

Dave, as a volunteer ski patroller on Saturdays, takes our skis and boots to the ski patrol shack at the top of the mountain during the day.
After dinner we get geared up with head lamps, snowshoes, and wine and make our way up the mountain. Last year I manipulated this map to show our path:

burke trail map copy

This year we selected a different route – we went via the Toll Road. It was a bit less challenging and a little longer, but it was an incredibly beautiful night to be out there!

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That’s the groomer just cresting one of the slopes we’d just traveled up. Doesn’t that look peaceful?
We did have to contend with the noise of the groomer for the first thirty minutes, but then it was blissfully quiet.
It was also bright enough for us to see our way without the use of the headlamps.

Looking back from where we’d come you can see the lights of the new hotel being constructed at the base of the mountain.

hotel lights

It is always a feeling of accomplishment when we arrive at the ski patrol shack.

on the outside looking in. .

It was warm and cozy inside by the pellet stove, where we relaxed, had some wine, and caught up with one another on the busy week we’d just finished.

selfie

It is essential to document the experience with a selfie.

Unfortunately, the camera battery quit on me, so I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the ski down, but I will share a couple from past years. . .

It was worth it!

The pavillion

Those are from last year when we needed our lights to see because it was snowing so heavily!

We’re hoping we will get one more opportunity to do this before the 2015 ski season comes to a close. The next full moon is on April 4, so there’s a very good chance!

full moon 3-15-14

Immersion into Yoga

Hatha Yoga Anvitasanam
(Now begins the teaching of yoga)

Amazing yoga teacher, Andrea Thibodeau of Heart Space Yoga Center offers a program entitled Deepen Your Connections – A three month immersion.
From her site:

What you will learn:
Discover the beauty of YOU and what you have to offer.
Find your own authentic voice.
How to improve and design your own home practice.
Begin to develop the skills and confidence for becoming a skillful and inspirational yoga teacher.
Build a foundation of yoga anatomy as well as how to safely practice and instruct poses.
Learn to create modifications to adapt to specific needs.
Explore Yoga therapy for specific injuries or limitations.

All of that sounds wonderful and necessary as part of a full life, but the main draw for me was “How to improve and design your own home practice”.

Since taking my first yoga classes with Andrea about 10 years ago I have been hooked. I love how it stretches me both physically and emotionally. Yoga has a way of making me feel balanced in life. In the past year and a half I have been doing boot camp regularly and have felt that yoga would be the perfect pairing with the tough endurance and muscle building work we do there. I have never been one to fully embrace an exercise routine of any kind at home, but when I think about what I might develop as a home routine, for the remainder of this lifetime, yoga is the thing that I keep coming back to.

When the opportunity presented itself, I knew it was the right time to do it.

The Deepen Your Connections training takes place over the course of three months – give or take. There are three immersion weekends – Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday. And there are twenty yoga classes in between.

There are 13 students in the class and it’s a diverse and amazing group of people.

Our first weekend was full. FULL full.
Andrea began with the early history of yogis, who really began by focusing on insight through direct meditative experiences.

Our texts are Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual by John Friend and The Yoga Practice Guide – Dynamic Sequencing for Home Practice and Teachers by Bruce Bowditch. In addition Andrea put a notebook together for us, with articles, quotes, and worksheets.

We covered much in the first 3 sessions, and I kept noticing truths that came up for me.

Here’s a quote from Andrea that, on the surface, seems like a simple statement, but looking deeper has some powerful truth to it:

“Sometimes you’ve gotta’ get out of your own way.”

I don’t know about you all, but I know there have been many times in my life I could have used this advice. I think of all the times I was sure I knew what other people were thinking, or what motivated them, and realize now how much that kind of thinking can block a person. When I am able to let go of what I think I know and just ‘be’ then life gets a lot less complicated.

On Saturday morning we were asked to think about what our intention is for being on this earth. Have you ever been asked that question? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Well, here it is – being offered up for your consideration. . .

My response was that my intention is to better understand either the masculine of the feminine aspect of myself. In the moment I wasn’t sure which one was my focus, but when I thought about it more deeply it became clearer.

The Shiva, or masculine, is the side of one which focuses on these qualities:
steadfastness, right effort, integrity, boldness, vitality, stillness, patience, mindfulness, steadiness, truthfulness, purity, confidence, fortitude, silence, forbearance, discrimination, resolution, faith, courage, aspiration, vigor, quiet, simplicity, will power, trust, fearlessness, intention, equipoise, tolerance wisdom.
Many of those qualities are ones I feel I have been working on in this life, or need to continue working on.

Shakti, on the other hand, the feminine emphasizes these qualities:
joy, celebration, acceptance, non-harming, non-stealing, devotion, generosity, creativity, happiness, surrender, love, compassion, contentment, reverence, gentleness, playfulness, enthusiasm, renunciation, kindness, sensitivity, harmony, gratitude, humility, softness, opening, yielding, friendliness, non-clinging, beauty, freedom, modesty, willingness to serve.
By no means do I have all of these qualities perfected, but do feel these are among my more grounded qualities and less in need of strengthening.

Prior to understanding Shiva/Shakti we were asked what qualities in ourselves we wanted to cultivate. My response: patience and tolerance; both Shiva traits.

While I am on the Shiva traits, did anyone notice the word equipoise there?

Well, that was new to me so I looked it up. (Of course I did!)

e·qui·poise
ˈekwəˌpoiz
noun
1.
balance of forces or interests.

1.
balance or counterbalance (something)

Yeah. Perfect. Balance in all things. That’s the mantra.

Mantra: (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.

We practiced this mantra and it was powerful, uplifing, and beautiful.

“Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo
Shiva Shiva Shiva Shambo
Máha Déva Shambo Máha Déva Shambo
Máha Déva Shambo Máha Déva Shambo”

Loosely translated it means “Hail to the supreme Lord, the auspicious one who brings happiness and joy, who dwells in the hearts of all!”

With all 14 of our voices we sang the chant for about 18 rounds and it was a perfect celebration of happiness and joy.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people around the globe came together and sang a mantra like this altogether for a minute, five minutes, or an hour. Imagine – millions with the intention of sharing happiness and joy simultaneously! I think it could change the world.

Should you want to try chanting the mantra for yourself I have shared a video of it that continues for over nine minutes – long enough for you to feel how lovely it is.

Namaste

An ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. Translated roughly, it means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.

Midnight Adventure!

A few years ago, when Dave and I were first dating, we started a tradition of adventuring.

Winters in Vermont can be long, so sometimes you need to do something a little different to keep it interesting.

One night we decided to hike up Burke Mountain during a full moon and then ski down around midnight in the moonlight.

We began our trek uphill about 9:00 pm that first year. My chivalrous husband strapped ski boots and skis onto his pack and we snow-shoed up.

Some years we have traveled the Toll Road (AKA Deer Run), which is not as steep as climbing right up the face. It takes us about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Then there was the year four other people joined us, but we took a 6-wheeler. Oh, that was so much easier. Until we were surrounded by two groomers who thought we were snow machiners who had been messing up the trails. The owner of the 6-wheeler was the groomer’s boss, so we were good to continue to the top. That is also the year that two of us skied down, two snow boarded, one took the 6-wheeler down, and one took a flying saucer!

The only other year we climbed up the steeper trails we were given a reprieve at about the half way point. The groomer stopped to chat, and we knew him, so he offered to give us a ride to the top. How cool is that? I’d always wanted to ride in a groomer! Because he was headed down the mountain we got to experience riding down AND up the hill and I much prefer going uphill in it. Going down hill was scary because there were spots where it seemed as if the world disappeared out from under us. I won’t mention any names because I don’t want anyone getting in trouble for doing a good deed.

So this year we (I) decided to go for the straight shot – up the Training Hill, then cut over to Bear Den and Willoughby. Our destination was the ski patrol shack on top. I marked our trail with hearts on a trail map:

burke trail map copy

Let’s just say it is pretty steep. It was a great workout and we were seriously sweating by the time we reached the ski patrol shack. When we started out it was mild, but by the time we hit Darling Point the wind had picked up and it was snowing, so at times there were white out conditions. It took us about 85 minutes.

Dave slogging away at it!

Dave slogging away at it!

I have to mention that we always do this as near to the full moon as we can because it’s not very cool to ski in the dark – at least not as cool as skiing by moonlight. However, it wasn’t looking like we were going to have any moonlight on this night.

The groomer never came close enough to offer us a ride this time!

The groomer never came close enough to offer us a ride this time!

Ah, we made it! The ski patrol shack! Doesn't that look inviting?

Ah, we made it! The ski patrol shack! Doesn’t that look inviting?

It was warm and cozy inside. We dried our things by the pellet stove, turned on some music, had a little homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream that we brought with us. . .

Drying out and warming up!

Drying out and warming up!

The sign reminded us that we needed to head down the hill soon.

The sign reminded us that we needed to head down the hill soon.

Just so you know – this year (and most of the time we’ve done this) we didn’t have to carry our skis and boots up the hill. Dave had taken them up on the chairlift earlier in the day. When we got ready to come down we strapped our hiking boots and snowshoes to the backpack.

There really isn’t anything that can describe the feeling of swooshing down the freshly groomed trails in the middle of the night. I was glad we had our headlamps since the moon was nowhere to be seen.

The perfect foundation for first tracks!

The perfect foundation for first tracks!

It was snowing like crazy! I tried to get pictures of the pavilion, but it was hard to see between the darkness and falling snow.

Looking toward the pavilion - how beautiful is that?

Looking toward the pavilion – how beautiful is that?

It was so worth it!

It was so worth it!

Having fun Dave?

Having fun Dave?

And so, we can say “we did it again.”

I am so glad we did. When you have the means – the health, the well being, the natural resources – how could you not?

“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.”
~Andre Gide

So, another adventure complete. As we got out of the truck at home we looked up and

and finally!

and finally!

There it is.