my so-called balance life

I started out in muggy Oklahoma City, flew 143 passengers to Denver, flew another 130 passengers to Phoenix, then flew our last flight to Sacramento with another 143 passengers. Good golly, yes you guessed right... I am a flight attendant and I have been flying for about five years now while managing to lead a balance healthy life while teaching yoga.

I end up here in hot Sacramento, took a nap and woke up not knowing where I was. Honestly due to fatigue, most of the time I don't remember where I am every time I wake up. My mind and body are particularly worn. I noticed that lately, there is a lack of something. I found myself so caught up in my life "up in the air" that I am heedless about yoga. You know that moment when you meet someone and there is this remarkable quality that you suddenly find yourself so drawn to them? That is exactly how I feel towards yoga. Through yoga, my passion never dies. It's like a reset button when you know you are just fed up about something then you turn to yoga and everything becomes... new again.

Soooooo I decided to join a month membership at Mantra Yoga in Carslbad so I can be in that magical place again. One thing I find impossible is the balance between flying and teaching yoga. Contrary to the popular belief (LOL), I am not always living a balance and healthy life. There I said it... this blog is about to get real. 

Truth is, balance is all about finding your ananda or bliss. It is about knowing when to say "thanks", weaving creativity, feeding your soul with good food, music and belly laughs. The minute you start causing yourself grief because you weren't able to get that Surya Namaskara in to have a peaceful morning... is like setting a bad intention for the day. Don't try to create the most perfect day, let go and allow for it to happen. In fact, its beautiful to have an awkward moment, unusual days and bad hair days (hmmm...). 

There it is, my little life in a nutshell. I may not have the most perfect balance life. I may have tight hips for a yoga instructor but my life is enjoyable because I know that in no doubt, the universe is unfolding as it should.

 

Costa Rica 2014

My 10 day adventure in Costa Rica left me a piece of lesson I will cherish for as long as I live. Each day was a grand adventure of exploring lands, jungle, unpaved roads, volcanoes and beaches. Some of those days, especially the first time spent driving on dirt road, were not too enjoyable. I kept thinking to myself, "gosh, this is just awful. We are never going to make it through this with our tiny car." But there was something about this one particular town at the end of this dirt road that captured my heart.

The town is called Nosara.

Nosara is a sleepy surfer town that magnifies the beauty of a free spirit. I immediately gravitated to the towns positive energy. Surfers and yoga instructors alike thrive in this town and there is a sense of community behind it. I remember being inside the car in the smoldering heat driving through dirt road anxiously searching for our hotel whispering to myself, "are we there yet?". And then, having this feeling of being completely excited for the new adventure I was going to embark. I can't remember the last time I was that excited!

As I explored Nosara's beauty, from beach bumming, massages to taking yoga classes once a day... I noticed that the yoga studios in this town did not contain any mirrors. I know, I know... why, right? How could you correct your alignment? I come from San Diego California and I am used to seeing mirrors because... its just the thing. But, I got this sense of the towns concept of releasing your ahamkara (ego). After the class, I felt less judgmental to people around me and to myself. It's just you and your mat in the jungle.

When I truly turned myself inward (pratyahara), my excitement in seeking new things gave me a new perspective. It placed a smile on my face even when no one was looking. It felt genuine. It was a breath of fresh air.

On my last day in Nosara, I was given the wonderful opportunity to teach yoga at this villa I was staying at. I was probably the happiest person on earth at that moment. I taught hatha mix with vinyasa flow to 3 lovely ladies and my bf. Nervous, but I managed to find that voice in me to still teach. After all, it was part of my voyage to also find my voice.

The day I left Nosara, I drove one last time on the dirt road and this time, it was different. Every minute I spent driving on that dirt road, I wished was longer. I drove slow because I was enjoying every minute of it. My eyes weren't searching anymore, they were saying goodbye and were feeling grateful to have learned so much about this town.

Marcel Proust once said, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

My 10 day adventure in Costa Rica gave me new eyes that I wish to carry in all of my travels. New eyes for santosa (contentment). New eyes for pratyahara (turning yourself inward). New eyes for releasing your ahamkara (ego).

The light within

Every morning, I make it a habit to do at least 3-5 sequence of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations) before I start my day. It's hard on most days especially since I am a flight attendant with an unconventional schedule. I noticed that I have been posting my yoga poses without explaining some important and interesting facts about the physical and spiritual benefits. This blog led me to think that It's time to write about the wonderful benefits of these poses.

Surya (sun) and Namaskara came from namas (to bow or adore)

The origin:

We are well aware that light is symbolic of consciousness and awakening. The sun, our primary source, is a symbol of hope and new beginning. The origins of yogis saluting the sun is a practice that involves lifting our hearts to the sky and then bowing towards mother earth. Each sequence begins and ends with joining our hands to heart center as a symbol of bringing the outer light to our inner soul.

Physical exercise:

Most flow of yoga are based on these two forms: surya namaskara A and B. These sequence are often used in order to heat the body and increase the movement of blood. The exercise tones the legs, arms and abdomen, and stretches the spine and hamstrings. It's an amazing body work out! Each asana (posture) is designed to stretch certain muscle group allowing you to feel the heat and making you more flexible.

Breath:

The key to this sequence is facilitating inhales and exhales from posture to posture. As you move, pay close attention to the quality of your breath. You must be breathing through the nose and not your mouth. You inhale whenever you lift your hands and heart to the sky and you exhale whenever you bow or fold forward. When your breath is synchronized with your movement, you will find yourself flowing through the sequence gracefully.

What are the poses?

The sequence consist of 8 different postures:

  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Ardha Uttanasana (standing half forward bend)
  • Plank Pose
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

I will be showing only a compilation of 6 poses yet methodical in its own way. The two that aren't shown are Tadasana (mountain pose) and plank pose, which are pretty self-explanatory.

*Remember, a true yogi isn't about who is the most flexible or who has stronger arms and legs. A true yogi is someone who is focused and mindful of his/her synchronized breath with movements.

Here we go! ;)

Stand tall in Tadasana (mountain pose) feet together, heels sliver apart. Tuck the tailbone under. Distribute the weight evenly on the 4 foundations of your feet (baby toe mound, big toe mound and two corners of your heels. Engage your thighs, chin level with the floor. Surely, standing tall can be a fairly easy posture but to be mindful of each body parts to engage allows prana (energy) to enter the body.

1: After Tadasana, inhale to Urdhva Hastasana- arms up over head, shoulders down. Rotate the arms inward so shoulders are down and not crunching up the neck. Remember to really lengthen your inhale and stretch through your fingertips while being mindful of the shoulders being down and back.

2: Exhale Uttanasana- forward fold from the hips, release the head, relax the neck. If hamstrings are tight, its OK to bend the knees. Remember healthy forward folds are from flexion of the hips, not the spine. Key is to lengthening the sternum to your toes, not the nose to knees. This posture is sooooo good for your hamstrings, calves and hips. It also stimulates the liver and the kidneys. It is considered a very therapeutic posture for high blood pressure and asthma.

3: Inhale Ardha Uttanasana - lift torso halfway up with a flat back, hands to shin, ankle or the mat. Spread your collarbones. This posture is excellent for improving the posture. You can really begin to see the improvement once your shoulder is open and back is flat in this posture. It also strengthens your front torso.

4: Exhale Chaturanga Dandasana- step or hop both feet to the back of the mat, and bring yourself to plank. Then, hug the elbows in and lower down to chaturanga. Keep your inner thighs rotated inward. Spread all fingers wide. Internally rotating the forearm as you transition from plank to chaturanga, helps ground the inner palm. This posture tones the abdomen and strenghtens the arms and wrists.

5: Inhale Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- shoulders over the wrist, relax your glutes, gaze forward, tops of the feet on the mat. Careful not to bring your gaze all the way up. Common mistakes is over back-bending the neck (cervical spine). This does NOT make you more flexible. For those who are suffering from sciatica, this is the perfect posture. It stimulates the abdominal organs, improves the posture, stretches your chest, lungs and shoulders... I think this is definitely the dessert for me after chaturanga. ;)

6: Exhale Adho Mukha Svanasana- curl your toes under, pike your hips up (use your hips to guide you), release the head, bring your gaze to your navel. Ground your heels. I can't think of a perfect posture relieving stress better than downward facing dog. This is the ultimate pose whenever I need to energize my body and calm the mind at the same time.

Happy saluting yogis. Enjoy this fun little sequence! And remember to always be mindful of your breath.

love and light,

Jill

My bliss project

Ever since I got certified as a Yoga Instructor, it has been a journey of positive bliss. I absolutely love what I do for I am able to genuinely connect with people. However, as a full time flight attendant, it became difficult for me to awaken that passion. I could not commit to a studio schedule and my 12 hour a day flying turned me into a tired yogi. It was at then that I started freelancing. I continued to educate myself through reading yoga books and committing to a daily home abhayasa (dedicated practice) so I can improve my asanas (poses). As 2013 drew to a close, several friends got married. One friend asked if i could teach a yoga class at her bachelorette. It occurred to me that this was something brilliant waiting to be tapped for the coming 2014. I quickly started jotting down ideas on my long haul flights and alas, I came up with the name- Sweet Yoga Brides.

Sweet Yoga Brides allows the bride and her bridesmaids to add yoga before the big day. With my background in stage design, I wanted to combine my love for design and yoga in a unique way by adding packages along with the yoga class. The packages include a bohemian flair theme picnic party and there is no hassle for the clients to worry about decorating or finding the venue because Sweet Yoga Brides will be in charge of EVERYTHING. Ok, so I am getting a little carried away with my excitement but I am just bristling in anticipation and cannot wait to launch this project! My photo shoot is finally happening. It will be at the Papillion Institute of Art and my yoga models (friends) are just too awesome to support me with this project.

There will be yummy healthy snacks, fun times and vino to be enjoyed during this photo shoot. Stay tuned...