Mindful Living

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Submitted by Annie Peterson, currently on her way to Nashville to teach Kundalini paired with an Advanced Bikram Yoga Class.
As this workshop came together, I really thought about how these two practices fit together for me.  The expressive hatha practice feels amazing in my body – the physicality, the process of alchemy that you undergo in the room, the confrontation of self and ego in the mirror.  It still works for me and I’ve been practicing consistently for 10 years.
5 years ago I found Kundalini yoga and added it to my Bikram practice.  As they say “All Roads Lead to Rome” and so the union, energy balance, mental clarity, meditation and awakening of the body’s systems are all present in both, as well as other yogic and non-yogic practices.  Anything humans do with mindfulness and intention can lead to self-realization, self-mastery and growth.
That said, to get to Rome (i.e. the self, potential, realization, to “come home”) you must choose one road, or a few, as the case may be.
The road to Rome for me has been a balancing of the hot and unheated practices of Bikram and Kundalini yoga – Kundalini mirrors the hatha practice: the room isn’t (intentionally) heated, often we close our eyes, and so it invites an experience of the self, body and consciousness from a different, yet equal, angle.
When I’ve stacked these practices back-to-back, the combined effect for me has been profoundly positive — that is, on the rare occasions I can do three hours of yoga in one day!
So, as Bre and I continued talking and brainstorming what we wanted this to be, we continued on our own paths and this concept emerged as an offering to students to experience a deeper hatha practice & learn about another set of tools to compliment whatever practice you already have…
I can only speak for myself, but I find these two lineages to be fascinating, and they’ve each brought so much to my life.  I’m looking forward to serving and engaging with this community this weekend!
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After a particularly long workday, I was driving down Woodland Street en route to the Turnip Truck for some dinner goods. Realizing I had some letters to mail, I stopped at the post office and dropped them in the box. Before I could get back to my car, the woman selling newspapers outside hollered that she had a question for me: “Can you give me a ride home?”

It was hotter than the eye of a blowdryer outside, she was carrying about 18 bags of things, and I sympathized.  I wouldn’t have thought of offering but it was definitely the nice thing to do, so why not? “Sure,” I replied, and with that she hopped right in. She asked me for my name, even though we recognized each other – I’ve seen her most every day for the last 3 years at least, the sweet black lady who usually says, “Hey Baby” (like a sassy, southern mama bear) when I see her.  I learned her name for the first time as well. I continued along Woodland, silently planning my trip to the Turnip Truck (hopefuly this would include a smoothie sample) when she informed me that she lives in Madison. Immediately my paradigm shifted from my pleasant grocery trip and the particular items I wanted for dinner to the realization that I would now have to visit a grocery store in Madison or even Rivergate (my ultimate destination was in fact all the way up to my new residence in Goodlettsville). My heart sank a little but I turned the car north towards Madison and away from my beloved natural market. I told myself to quit all that nonsense and be grateful for the opportunity to help someone out but visions of smoothies were still dancing in my head.

We tried to make conversation on the 15-minute trip up north weaving in and out of traffic. I kept telling myself to “just be cool.” I was trying not to say something silly like some petty gripe that might normally come up in an everyday conversation but would seem rather insulting to someone whose job it is to stand outside 8 hours a day in the heat and cold, rain and snow, selling The Contributor for $2 apiece. So, I mostly just listened. Turned out she was born and raised here in Nashville. “We seen a lot,” she kept saying. “Things gonna get worse ‘fore they get better. A lot worse,” she said in response to her mainly one-sided conversation about the “improvements” in the area, which I’ve heard others refer to as gentrification. She seemed sorry for the young folks living through it and getting into trouble. Saddened by family members who have gone to jail or been killed. “They need a job, something to do. They NEED Jesus!” I nodded and tried to imagine life in her shoes… Our lives were different but we shared faith.

We got to the duplex where she lived, she got out and thanked me for the ride. I felt like it wasn’t nearly enough … but in the moment realized, what could I have done that would have been enough? Maybe it was just right. For today. I gave her what she needed in the moment…. I continued up the road. I called to tell my husband I’d be late because I’d gone off-course and also hit rush-hour traffic. He then asked me to stop at Walmart for some additional items since I was going to pass by the one on Gallatin. Getting hangrier by the minute, I agreed with an extra bit snappiness. I knew I was going to need something to eat to get me through the rest of the less-scenic driving route and the additional unpleasant errand. I pulled into the nearest grocery store, which was nothing like the pristine aisles of Turnip Truck with the stylish folks that frequent it. Here in Madison, I grabbed the first roasted chicken I found, Caesar salad in a bag, and a bottle of white wine (an impulse buy which seemed justified at this point).

Continuing on up the road, I pulled into Walmart, turned off my car and decided I needed to eat a chicken leg NOW. Realizing that the wine was a twist off bottle, I figured I might as well have a couple sips before going inside, then grabbed my purse and headed through the automatic doors with my chicken leg and greasy fingers. Another lesson in embracing the moment. I didn’t need the Turnip Truck. It would always be there tomorrow. And maybe letting go of attachments was the very thing I needed to be reminded of. Every moment of every day, I’m making plans and then trying to carry them out. But I’m not here just for myself. I can put my plans or desires on the back burner from time to time, and maybe sometimes, like today, that will be ultimately more rewarding.  


by Tara Smith

January, 2014 was the time during which I poured myself in my yoga practice again. One day at a time, what I thought might be 30 days, led me to practice daily for almost 4 months. It also led to me getting pregnant after 5 years of trying both natural and hormonal fertility treatments. I don’t know if it was a coincidence, but it was after I allowed myself to return to yoga that my body agreed to what my heart and mind had been wanting for so long.

My husband and I had just finished our last round of fertility treatment the month prior, and we we decided to take a break before proceeding to the next phase of our treatment. Since I would be on a break from the treatments, I decided that what I really wanted to do at that time was a 30-day challenge. This ended up turning into 60 days and then 90 days. I then started my fourth month. After 105 days of yoga, I found out that we had conceived naturally. I was elated and nervous all at the same time. How could this be? After years of trying, when we had finally stopped treatment and I immersed myself in yoga, it happened!

I’m not the first. In fact, I think it happens quite frequently.

But in my mind, I allowed myself that precious time on my mat every day, which allowed my mind and body to relax… and then boom!!

Per my doctors orders, I took the rest of the first trimester off of teaching and taking class to let crucial development take place. However, the moment I got the doctor’s OK to get back into the hot room, that’s exactly what I did, and I can’t tell you what a difference it made in every aspect of my pregnancy and delivery.

Hot yoga has been amazing for me for all the reasons it’s amazing for everyone – pregnant or not. The heat promoting circulatory benefits, reducing, rather eliminating completely, swelling in my wrists and ankles, and literally combating any negative side effects typically associated with pregnancy, as I kept up a practice of 3-4 times per week.

I was more noticeably relaxed, by maintaining a low blood pressure and keeping stress and anxiety at bay. Overall, I feel really good.

The breathing techniques – pranayama – that I practice in the Hot 26 series gave me even that much more power and control when delivery day arrived! Indeed, my son Lenon was born naturally and healthy, and I recovered as quickly as I could imagine.

My advice to any mother-to-be is this: as long as it feels good, do it! Your body will let you know what is right or wrong for you. Many women stay away from hot yoga when they are pregnant, but I don’t know what I would have done without it. As long as you have a regular practice and have approval from your doctor, you will be better off for the dedication you give to yourself during a time in which much of your energy is given to growing someone else. It is always important to take the time for yourself on your mat.