April 29th, 2016

As I write this third post of the month of April, I am listening to the full SNL show that paid tribute to Prince. I think the shock has worn off a bit and an amazing amount of appreciation has surfaced. In a time when the world seems to have so much chaos, we can honor a light that burned so bright. I can’t say enough about the now legend that is Prince.

I moved through detox week and was met with more challenge than I had anticipated. I made it four days with no coffee and mostly just veggies… I felt the full effects of my body cleansing and needing to rest. That was the hard part. Also, honoring the success of the four days and not feeling as if I had failed to have not met the week goal. This is a success that I feel will precede the next effort. This is a process right? Just taking action to try is huge. I feel good about the cleanse in general. My neurons became raw as I challenged my body to not rely on cravings but to re-align with the strength of my body and brain. Wow! What a boost and feeling of renewal, growth, and change. I think that this process, along with running, and yoga allowed me the space to be open. Open to the present and as Rolf Gates stated so eloquently, “to participate in life as it is happening”.

I also noticed something else quite amazing. I must give accolades to my teacher Annie Adamson Vogt. I have been studying with Annie now since September in the 200hr yoga teacher training. I admire so much the dedication Annie has to her ever evolving knowledge and understanding of yoga. I have learned volumes about yoga, studentship, sisterhood, and respect for one another. I have been focusing so much on the structure of my yoga practice and relearning how to practice the shapes and poses in ways that are safe and kind to my body. I have been working hard to strengthen, so that I may touch upon the grace of opening up into the shapes. I hadn’t realized yet how much all of this concentrated effort, and really taking in what Annie is teaching was effecting me.

I felt the practice come into play this weekend when taking Rolf Gates workshop. He kept saying to find the middle. The place between effort and ease. As I started the workshop I felt a bit weak, likely due to the cleanse. I felt like I didn’t have the strength to do the physical practice. But then something strange happened. I just moved into the practice anyway. I just allowed my body to be where it was at and let that be the determiner of where my middle was. As I let go of expectation and just enjoyed my practice I suddenly realized how much stronger my body had become and how much the poses felt so good in my body. I can actually see how all the concentrated effort of the last several months has actually changed and strengthened me. Through the guidance of Annie and my own effort I could finally just relax into it and have some fun with it. With that aside I was also present. I followed Rolf’s guidance somewhere in my middle and I felt as if I could just keep going. As this sheath of old self doubt started to move away from me, I could feel myself and my heart shining bigger and brighter. Loving kindness and compassion was all I could think of. My mind was calm and I could just enjoy the experience of my heart feeling full and open and I was able to let in the experience of the other people around me also enveloped in beautiful practice. It was amazing. This is how we help each other. How we let each other into our lives and form this beautiful heartfelt and intentional community.

I feel it is such a gift and an honor to be a part of something so positive. I believe that this is how we change our neuroplasticity, and generate new thought patterns that then ripple out into our everyday lives. This is positive change. All I could think was that I had found my joy and I wanted more of that. They say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. I am a student of life and have a deep desire to learn. Some amazing teachers have shown up in my life and I am learning. I have to also give accolades to teachers Todd Vogt, Chris Calarco, Carly Budhram, Winter Pemberton, Kate Smith, Natalia Policelli and all the lovely teachers at Yoga Union. Your commitment to practice and ability to teach is truly inspiring.

There are five days left in the challenge. I am fifteen classes in and feel that I will meet the goal of 20 classes. Every challenge is different and this one for me has been profound so far. So, I will end this post with a quote from the Tao Te Ching:

Verse 32
The Tao is forever undefined.
Small though it is in the unformed state, it cannot be grasped.
If kings and lords could harness it, the ten thousand things would naturally obey.
Heaven and earth would come together, and gentle rain fall.
Men would need no more instruction and all the things would take their course.
Once the whole is divided, the parts need names.
There are already enough names.
One must know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop averts trouble.
Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.

Danielle Boucher Quast.

April 18th, 2016

I don’t know who said it best or first…  but…..the universe is a fierce and relentless teacher.  This means something different to every person, but it all translates the same way.  This is what we find as we move through life.  Sometimes in a hurry and sometimes in a slower way.  The idea that we can just live life and hope for the best outcome of life is a myth.  The truth is that the universe brings the lessons we are here to learn.  At times the lessons are heart wrenching..  I know for myself that it is at these times when I question my own motivation for everything I do.   Did I do it right?  Did I do it with integrity?   The list goes on.  I find that life has nothing to do with how hard I try, but how much can I listen?  How much can I be present? How much can I learn?  Where am I and what kind of energy am I putting out…  this is taking responsibility for ourselves so that when we do try, and try hard….  It means something, because we do it with intention.  This is Asana, the physical form of yoga practice.  If this is all we did, it would bring us closer to ourselves.  But, it doesn’t stop there, and in fact Asana is just where it begins.
 This is the strength in structure that we work to build.  During the time of a yoga challenge we are all doing a lot of yoga.  We may move our practice to a place we have not known before.  We may do poses we have never done before, or even realized we could do.  This is the present moment during a yoga challenge when we can discover our bodies in a new way and realize what our bodies can do in a whole new way. We discover a new appreciation of our bodies, but…  is this lasting?  It depends on what comes up for us.  A yogi knows that  Asana is what leads us into spiritual practice.  We can release the restraints of the physical body just enough to sense our presence.  And this is where the lessons live.  As we move into more contemplative spaces our minds expand.  We have the ability to touch memories, experiences, genetics.. that we might not otherwise touch upon.  What happens then?  That is where the universe becomes this teacher that we can know as much or as little as we desire.  It’s like having a dream that we aren’t sure happened.  It did happen, but in our subconscious mind (our lovely brains).  When we practice yoga regularly we touch upon what is stored in our subconscious mind.  It is there just waiting for us to explore.  I believe that it is this exploration the grows us, and creates lasting change.  Some days I go to yoga feeling strong and I can move through a practice with ease and strength and what comes out of my subconscious mind is a feeling of support and joy.  And then there are those practices or days when what comes up is a ball of something I am trying to make sense of.  Often this is accompanied with emotion.  I think it is so important to acknowledge this experience.  Because it is so hard to get to.  Life is busy and there are few moments both present and still enough where we can access these lessons.  I feel that there is no shame in coming to tears or curling into child’s pose when these moments present themselves.  They are there for us to feel.  It is ok to feel.  We are feeling beings.  This is how we grow.  Yoga teaches us to revisit.  I remember Chris Calarco saying,  we practice to remember.  This is the practice of remembering who we are.  This can be a genetic remembrance or something from this lifetime.  In any case, thankfully… we remember.  We remember that we are perfect flawed in our own beautiful and unique way.  This is such a gift.  This is the spiritual practice of yoga and this is what creates strength in structure and also strength in community.
So … here we are, midway through the challenge and the nourishment program.  Now we are in the depths.  This is the hardest part, the middle.  Not close enough to the end to see the light and far enough from the start to quit at this point.  Relearning our bodies, minds, and spirits.  Cleansing is actually a difficult process.  We have to go through the hard part to get to the good part.  This is where commitment and fortitude come into play.  Because life doesn’t stop… we just do.  I am finding that I have slowed way down with out my afternoon coffee and not letting myself have certain things.  The true challenge is the upcoming week.  DETOX WEEK!  What have I gotten myself into?  Once again..  I know that I will be ok, if not just uncomfortable.  Its just a week.  I can do anything for a week right?  NO COFFEE, alcohol, nightshades, dairy, citrus…limited technology..etc..    Mostly just veggies…  And lots of yoga.
The incentive or reward that I can foresee is the upcoming weekend with Rolf Gates.  He is a profound and amazing teacher.  I am thrilled and honored to take his yoga classes next weekend.  I have been following his work for some time.  This is the light at the end of the detox tunnel.
A quote from Cheryl Stayed..”It’s folly to measure your success in money or fame.  Success is measured only by your ability to say yes to these two questions:
Did I do the work I needed to do?
Did I give it everything I had?
Here is to the third week of the yoga challenge and nourishment program.  May we all love and support each other as we go! Namaste.
Danielle Boucher Quast

April 7th, 2016

Blog post yoga challenge 2016.  April 7th.  Week One


I am struck this year, Spring of 2016 by the idea of Sangha.  The Sanskrit term used to refer to community/home.  Thich Nhat Hanh refers to Sangha as “the doorway”.  The doorway to mindfulness, presence in the moment, intention, connection to ourselves, our community, and our home.  The idea of the home comes in to play as we observe ourselves, our community, and the world around us.  The old phrase…THE HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS.. keeps coming into my mind.  Sort of like a mantra.  Nourishing our hearts, and taking care of our hearts in a multitude of ways, is a doorway of sorts to our happiness, our best selves, and our home.

Today is April 7th.  We are all one week into the yoga challenge and nourishment program.  I have taken this first week to set my intention and set up a new routine of practice, nourishment, and the ever challenging cleanse.  The Nourishment Program was designed by Kate Smith ND and Lauren Ward-Selinger ND, who practice at Prema Health.  They have formed a brilliant month long plan that starts with a multitude of selfcare practices and then a multitude of cleansing practices.  Their kind request of anyone doing the program was simply for people to take a look at their personal relationships to any number of things and substances that we rely on from day to day.  Their approach was to give people a program in which the individual could decide how intense their cleanse would be.  As an acupuncturist, I find great value in this gentle approach.  I have never been a fan of extremes and definitely not when it comes to cleansing things out of our lives.  The big dog for me is coffee.  Ok, there, I said it.  To say that I am a coffee lover is to say it lightly.

If I honestly evaluate my relationship to coffee, I would say that I mostly just love it.  It is not a love hate relationship.  The other side of the coin is to question whether my body and soul love it as well.  Some coffee can be just fine.  I have noticed that as a professional caretaker, I often put my own needs on the back burner.  This is a very common thing that happens for practitioners.  I put all of my energy into my work and at times there is little left over energy to actually take care of myself. So, drinking coffee essentially all day long has not been uncommon for me at times. That is what this nourishment program is all about.  In this first week.  I am limiting coffee.  No coffee in the afternoon.  Next week I hope to cut my intake in half, and the following week no coffee for one week.  This is huge!  I have already noticed that my HEART is happier.  I have much less nervous and substance induced energy and more grounded and more organic energy.  I have been a bit more tired and some headaches, but I am sitting with it and meditating on it.  Guess what?  It’s going to be ok.  Im not going to die..  Ha!

Lots of yoga (I am four classes in), and exercise are also extremely helpful in this process of not only cleansing, but coming back to the intention of why we are doing this in the first place.  My intention is to be a healthier and more authentic person.  So, I go to yoga and I run, and this brings me back.  Back to my clarity and my intention and what I am finding is most important to me, is my pursuit of happiness.

When I am in yoga, and I look around at all the people practicing my heart is filled with joy!  This is one time in life when I feel truly happy.  The community that has blossomed at Yoga Union is a phenomenon.  This intentional community keeps growing and I believe it is because the intention for a better world is at the core of it.  Yoga Union is filled with the energy of everyone holding each other up.  Holding up and pushing up.  A safe place where your heart can be full and your energy big.  On the days when we aren’t feeling so full and big, it is also a safe place for reflection.  So, we can also just be!

To quote Thich Nhat Hanh once again;  “We need each other for the practice to be successful, the practice of love realized by many people at the same time”

One note about the heart and heart meridian.  The first acupuncture point on the heart channel is deep in the armpit.  I am amazed at how much “stuff” we can store in this seemingly hollow place.  A gentle daily massage for just a minute or two on this point can open the entire heart channel and start to release much of what has been pent up in our armpits and shoulder areas.

Hats off to week one of the yoga challenge and nourishment program.  I am excited for week two!

Danielle Boucher Quast

March 31st, 2016

Welcome to the adventures of the Yoga Union yoga challenge 2016 in the new Breathe Building.  The yoga challenge will begin April 1st.  The goal is 20 classes in 30 days.  I will be doing the challenge and regularly blogging about it.  Yoga Union has been doing the yoga challenge for the last nine years.  This will be my sixth time doing the challenge.  It was the yoga challenge back in 2011 that took my practice to a new level.  I started to understand the idea of a lifelong practice of knowing and understanding my body as I never had before.  My first yoga challenge happened at a turning point in my life, and I have been hooked every since.  Every April I redefine my relationship to my yoga practice, as I take the challenge and see what happens.  Spring time is about the sprouting of new life and the rising up of the energy that has been churning under the earth all winter.  New challenges begin to present themselves, and new resolutions also begin to appear.  My heart is overjoyed this year to share my yoga challenge blog with the Yoga Union community.  It is an honor to be a part of this community and to have seen all the changes happen, especially over the last year.

My question this year is about strength.  Strength in physical structure, strength in the mind, and strength in the community that surrounds us.  The more I practice and deepen my study of yoga, the more I think about the duality of strength versus flexibility.  I think about the opposing forces of movement versus stillness.  These are the yin and the yang of each other, and somewhere in the middle is the balance.  They are all equally important and full of lessons.

In this month of April, I will also be doing the Nourishment Program through Prema Health.  This will include adding daily self care practices and taking out things that don’t serve me.  I look forward to this month of challenges.  I hope you will join me as I blog my way through it!

Verse 33-From the Tao Te Ching

Knowing others is wisdom;  Knowing the self is enlightenment.

Mastering others requires force; Mastering the self needs strength.

He who knows he has enough is rich.

Perseverance is a sign of will power.

He who stays where he is endures.

To die not to perish is to be eternally present.

-Lao Tzu


May 1st, 2015

I finished the challenge today with my final and 20th class.  I wasn’t exactly sure I was going to finish the challenge.  If I didn’t it would have been the second challenge in 5 years that I didn’t finish.  I made the decision to finish.  That meant two classes per day for the last three days and then the final class today.  Seven classes in four days.  I have to say that I met my limits.  I met limits of thinking that I couldn’t do it, to losing myself in the practice and losing track of time.  That is one of the reasons I love yoga so much.  It is one of the only things in life that makes me lose track of time.  For me the challenge isn’t so that I can know that I did 20 classes in 20 days.  What it is for me is a re-commitment to myself and my practice.  I hope to practice yoga for my lifetime.  This will employ an ebb and flow of practice.  As I had started to be less committed in the last couple of months, I was reminded of the importance of my practice in my life by doing the challenge.  The commitment is to myself, my strength, my spiritual journey, and my balance.  It is what reminds me of how I hope to be in the world.  I hope to be a good person, and honest person, and a person who lives from integrity.  I also hope to be a person who gives back.

I was surprised to find that while looking through the Tao De Ching I opened up to verse 36.

Should you want to contain something, you must deliberately let it expand.  Should you want to weaken something, you must deliberately let it grow strong.  Should you want to eliminate something, you must deliberately allow it to flourish, Should you want to take something away, you must deliberately grant it access.

The lesson here is called the wisdom of obscurity.  The gentle outlasts the strong.  The obscure outlasts the obvious.  Fish cannot leave deep waters, and a country’s weapons should not be displayed.

Funny how the first blog post for this challenge was to open up inside a container.  If props make a safe container, then they are essential for properly opening up.  I say congratulations to all those who completed the challenge.  Hats off to you and your commitment.    I wish for human kind to have peace in their hearts and love in their soul.  Until the next challenge.. Happy 2015!

April 21st, 2015

The yoga challenge is going well.  Considering that it is April.  There is something about this time of year and the change in season.  A much stronger Yang energy begins to surface.  An energy that has been dormant all winter.  Maybe not as much dormant, but pulling in and processing and preparing for the upcoming spring and summer up ahead.  When this Yang energy begins to push out of us, we begin to become much more active in every way.  If we were farmers, we would be out tilling and preparing the land.  But in this day and age, most of us are not living as farmers and so we must till and prepare ourselves for upcoming life.  I think that is why in the five years I have been doing the yoga challenge I feel like a barely make the goal every year.  So much life stuff starts to surface that I have a hard time keeping up.  This is exciting and should never be stressful.  This is life, and this is life in the 21st century.

The focus of this post is to explore the use of props and why they can help our yoga practice.  Even if you don’t think you need a block, a strap, or a bolster.  I have discovered that props form a proper container.  If we are completely supported, we can more efficiently open up into a pose and be able to feel the alignment of the shape and not the strain.  Yoga is hard there is no doubt, but it should not be exactly painful.  Uncomfortable..yes, but not painful.  In a simple standing pose we can use a block and it doesnt necessarily feel like a container, but it gives proper range.  Even in a simple pose like Uttanasana, or Forward Bend.  Just having a block to push down on will allow the spine to open up and unfurl.  Instead of the focus of getting the legs straight and touching the ground.  The goal of yoga is to connect with your body, mind, and soul.  Not to push hard into a space and shape that our bodies are not ready for.  I think sometimes in our society we think that using props is either like cheating, or we need them because we are not as advanced in our yoga practice.  I have come to understand that honoring our bodies and each aspect of where they are is an invaluable and humbling lesson.  Dedication and devotion to practice and practice daily is where the advanced yogi begins to evolve.

In a pose like Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana, or Extended Hand to Toe Pose a strap is the perfect tool.  Using a strap to hook onto the big toe and allow your leg to sweep out straight or swing out to the side straight feels amazing. You can do this either lying down or standing.  You can control the tension of the strap and move into the open feeling in the legs and hips.  You can move into the full pose, whereas if you were without a strap, you would be limited as to how far your body would open up and then the discomfort of possibly pushing to hard into the pose.  This allows for the gentle push of opening up inside your container.  A container provides safety in opening up into vulnerability.  Allow your props to help you form your container.  Not to mention the fact that it feels great!

Here’s to the last 10 days of the challenge!  I am ten classes in and hope to finish with 10 classes to go!  Happy April and Happy Spring!

April 1st, 2015

Here it is, April once again!  With April comes the yoga challenge, which is quickly becoming a tradition for me.  I love to see what the yoga challenge will present each year.  This will be my fifth yoga challenge and also my fifth blog.  I am excited to share the experience of pushing myself to go to daily yoga classes through the month of April.  The focus this year will be the use of props to help with proper alignment in the poses.  I have been using more props all the time in my practice.  I can start to see the dynamic presentation of force vs ease.  Yoga in its essence is about ease of movement and ease of stillness.  Here is to April 1st and day one of the challenge!

August 26th, 2014

As you are winding down for the night, there are a few yoga poses that will assure you that restful night sleep.
1. Uttanasana-Standing Forward Bend.  With your feet hip width apart, raise your arms to the sky.  Then bend at the hips and allow your body to bend forward with slightly bent knees.  As you begin to hang from the hips, allow your hands to gently touch the shins or the ground and feel your body unwind from the day.  Come out of the pose the same way you went into it.
2.  If there is room on the floor next to your bed you can lay on your back.  You can also lay on your bed to do the following yoga poses.  Supta Baddha Konasana-Reclined Bound Angle Pose is next.  Lay on your back and bring your knees into your chest.  Then set your feet down with the knees up.  Allow the knees to fall open, and feel the opening of the pelvis and low back.
3. Spinal Twist is next.  Bring the knees back into the chest and let both knees fall to one side of the body for a spinal twist.  Follow this up by let the knees fall to the opposite side as well.  You can hold these poses for as long as they feel good, but at least several breath cycles.
4. Viparita Karani-Legs up the wall pose is next.  You can also do this pose in bed.  Bring the back of the pelvis as close to a wall or headboard as possible.  Then swing the legs up the wall and flex the feet.  Feel the hamstrings begin to release and blood flow increase to the core of the body. 
5. Childs Pose is next.  Curl into a ball with your forhead on the floor or your mattress.  Feel your spine begin to unfurl.
6. Savasana is the final night time pose recommended.  This is also called Corpse Pose.  Lay on your back with hands out and palms up.  Feel your body relax into your rest and your sleep.
Morning Poses
1. Mountain Pose-Stand with your hands by your sides and straighten your spine.  Feel your body begin to wake up.  Take a few deep breaths, upon inhaling raise the arms and look to the sky.  Upon exhaling lower the arms and let all the air out of the lungs. 
2. Follow Mountain Pose with a Sun Saluation and move through the Sun Salutation at least five times.  This will wake you up and get you moving for the day. 
-Mountain Pose
-Hanging Forward Pose
-Downward Dog Pose
-Plank Pose
-Cobra Pose
-Downward Dog Pose
-Hanging Forward Pose
-Mountain Pose
This series of poses is a full Sun Salutation.  Do each motion with the breath.
Thank you, Namaste
Danielle Quast LAc.
Thank you to www.caspersleep.com

May 4th, 2014

Well hello!   The month of April has ended and sadly so has the yoga challenge.  I ended up doing 20 classes in 30 days, which is considered completion of the yoga challenge at Yoga Union.  So even though I didn’t reach my goal of 30 classes in 30 days, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  So far in the last three times I have attempted the challenge all kinds of life stuff has come up.  It begs the question of deep body work and what it will bring up for you..

I ended up pulling a deep groin muscle.  I have strained just about every part of my body in this yoga journey of many years.  I have strained peck muscles, hamstrings, hip flexors, gluteal muscles, shoulder muscles, neck muscles.  You name it, I have strained it, but what I have noticed is that I have rarely strained the same muscle or muscle group twice.  The healing process of recovering from a muscle strain is that you learn how far you can push that particular muscle in your body and also what else is connected to it that might be out of alignment which perhaps caused the strain in the first place.  The other factor is knowing when to be flexible and when to be strong.  Truly, poses seem to be mostly strength until the very last part of a pose which is flexibility.  You know you have gone to far when you just go into a deep pose and you can’t hold it or breath into it.  My teachers always say that if you have stopped breathing, you have gone too far.  I can say with certainty that whenever I have hurt myself, I know that I have gone too far.  I pushed myself too far or I wanted to keep up with others in the class, or I just got an ego about a certain pose and wanted to do it so bad that I forced myself into it… and whamoooo…  Injury occurs.

I have talked to many doctors of all kinds that warn against doing “too much” yoga.  They say the see all kinds of patients that have been seriously injured in a yoga class.  I have also seen and had many patients that have been doing yoga for years and years and end up wearing out a joint or overusing etc..  These are big lessons in having good and skilled teachers, knowing your body, paying attention to your body, leaving you ego at the door, remembering that this is not a competition, and taking baby steps to build your deep core strength while indulging in your flexibility at the same time.  I have yet to find a yoga pose where all parts of the body are not engaged in order to do it properly.  With so many aspects to think about when going into a pose, there is literally no time or space to think about anything else..  This is yoga.  Complete presence!  It is a complete connection between mind, body, and spirit.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I always get tripped up too on the fact that I have been practicing yoga in some form since the age of 12.  Even though the strength and flexibility I have gained are amazing to me, I still have not been able to take it to the next level and hop right up into a standing handstand or hold my body weight on my arms.  At this point I think I am likely strong enough, but I think my mind is blocking me.  So, this is my next challenge.  To let go of mental blocks that hold my body back.

The last three limbs of yoga are Dharana(concentration), Dhyana(meditation), and Samadhi(union with self with the object of meditation.  One thing I enjoy about yoga are poses the shift the equilibrium.  For instance, inverted poses in which we turn upside down and all the blood in our bodies rushes to our heads.  What an exhilarating feeling.  Balancing poses are also exhilarating in that the fierce concentration it takes to stay in a balance pose always lets me know if my equilibrium is on or off.  Balancing poses are amazing for pressing the restart button on the equilibrium and the nervous system.  I also think about the balance between the central nervous system and our bodies.  Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic.  Exertion vs Rest, Voluntary vs Involuntary…  But I digress.  These are topics for another day.

I would like to end with the last limb of yoga, which is Samadhi.  The ultimate union and knowing of ourselves.  Nurturing ourselves.  A quote from Rolf Gates goes as follows..”Samadhi, In and of itself it is, for most of us, simply a pleasant reality, like a blueberry muffin.  The lesson of Samadhi, however can only be reached through self forgetting, and that lesson can be applied in all things.”  And lastly, a prayer from Saint Francis, “Through self forgetting we find, we can love.”  It is so beautiful to think of this unity in ourselves and others.  Much love and Namaste!


April 23rd, 2014

Well hello out there.  I am always amazed at what comes up this time of year.  It is such a perfect time to do a yoga challenge.  Spring is all about change, growth, new beginnings, and preparation for summer.  Here in Portland the summertime is the best time of year.  Portlanders wait for it and plan for it.  This is the time of year for farmers markets, gardens, being outdoors, music, and exploration.  The yoga challenge always feels to me like taking off  the cloak that has been the winter.  So, in that rebirth so to speak it is a good time to cleanse and purge.  It is a good time to evaluate life and let go of what is not working and bring in what will.

When you are doing yoga 5-7 days a week and much of that hot flow, you certainly will be cleansing and purging.  The second week of the challenge I think I did close to 10 hours of yoga.  And 7 of the hours were hot.  Going that deep into your body helps you re-align with your life, but it also will bring out any old stories that we have lodged away somewhere in our bodies.  The term working it out on the mat is not without credence.

I was going strong and on my way to 30 classes in 30 days.  Then life happened and the intensity of cleansing increased.  So now it is the 23rd of April.  I have done 17 classes.  It looks like I will at least make it to 25 classes by the end of the month.  However, my yoga practice has been amazing and so very fulfilling.  Again, I look around at all these people also doing the challenge.  We are all working through our stuff in order to blossom into these amazing poses.  To feel yourself becoming stronger and more flexible at the same time is empowering.  Then when you can finally move into a deep and complicated pose, the reward is like no other.  To know and get to know your body on this level is incredible.  It is this kind of body work that can enliven us and leave us with a big smile on our faces, walking tall out into the world.

So, as far as the structure of the blog.  I will combine a few limbs of the eight limbs of yoga.  Asana(postures), Pranayama(breathing), and Pratyahara(turning inward) are the next pieces of the 8 limb picture.  This is the most physical part of yoga.  If this is all that interests a person about yoga, it is plenty.  Just focusing on the poses and your actual breathing are huge accomplishments.  Just breathing deeply is deep yoga.  A teacher mentioned that it puts more stress on the body to breathe shallowly vs. deeply.  We all do a lot of shallow breathing because we are all moving quickly in a world that demands it.  Slowing down enough to recognize how we are breathing is a sweet place to be.  It is so grounding and again, very cleansing.  Doing postures and breathing are what allow us to go a little more inward.  Yoga is amazing for just clearing the mind.

I will end with a quote that feels a little lighter to me, just like springtime!  “Be your breath, ah, smile, hey, and relax, ho, and remember this, you can’t miss.” Rick Fields.