Posts Tagged ‘Judith Lasater’

I heard Dr. Mehmet Oz the other day suggest three easy changes to your morning routine that can make a big difference in your day.

  1. Start each day with stretching. Dr. Oz says he begins his morning with 7 minutes of yoga.
  2. Eat breakfast.
  3. Get to work, appointments, classes, etc., 5 minutes early.

The first two I don’t have a problem accomplishing. But the third point? Well, it addresses time management, one of my great life challenges and no coincidence 🙂 one of new year resolutions.

It is very difficult for me to get a handle on time. I suffer from two critical flaws — I over schedule my day and I underestimate the time it takes to do any given task. If it takes 15 minutes with no traffic to get to the doctor’s office and I have an appointment at 2:00, I will leave at 1:45. I allow for no contingencies. And heaven forbid, I actually get somewhere EARLY.

Dr. Oz says that being late will stress you out and cause high blood pressure. It also shows  — and this is important for me to remember — disrespect to those that are waiting for you. When you keep someone waiting you are in essence saying, “My time is more important than yours.” He pointed out that a late arrival  puts you at a deficit when you come into a meeting. You may have missed information and the other person has an advantage.

I took a yoga teacher training with the esteemed Judith Lasater who is a stickler about time. As those of you who have taught  workshops and classes  know (yoga or otherwise), it can be difficult to get a large group of people assembled and quieted. Not for Judith. She rings the bell and starts (with a moment of silence) whether people are settled in or not. You learn quickly not to be late, and if you are, she’s starting anyway. She also is just as conscientious about ending on time. Judith says, “We start class on time to honor the practice. We end class on time to honor our students.  Be it yoga class, PTA meetings, business appointments or lunch dates with friends, Judith’s words apply.

One more thought from one of my favorite authors which deserves a separate post in and of itself …

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ~M. Scott Peck

THAT takes some digesting!

* * *

In addition to the 3 tips listed above, Dr. Oz spells out several other changes that can positively impact your daily life including: avoid mindless eating, get off the couch,stay connected to family and friends, and have a regular bedtime.  Read more in The Seven Deadly Sins According to Dr Oz: What to Do to Replace  Them.

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Yoga Journal just sent out this conference update that features photos and these FREE download-able MP3’s of several of the Estes Park 2008 events including:

  • The Yoga of Money lecture by Brent Kessel, financial planner and 20-year veteran of Ashtanga yoga;
  • Ganesha & Other Stories: Symbolisms of Hindu and Buddhist Deities with Dr. Manoj Chalam; Indian-born Manoj is a scientist with a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He has compiled a book on Hindu/Buddhist Symbolisms and presents workshops on Symbolisms and Vedanta at retreats of John Friend’s Anusara Yoga, Deepak Chopra, Sivananda Ashram Teacher Trainings and other yoga studios.

There is also additional information in the update about the upcoming Florida and San Francisco conferences.

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A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.

~Author Unknown

A “new-ish” friend recently paid me a very high compliment that caused me to reflect on my belief about friendships. She wrote:

“I want to thank you for challenging me on my decisions over the past year. By asking me “why” so often, you really helped me be mindful about what I was doing. Most friends just kinda pat you on the head and tell you to soldier on or whatever, but you are one of a select few who made me be careful, which is actually better in the long run.”

No doubt, I AM the self-ordained Queen of Questions. Always have been. If I only had a dime for every time I have started a sentence with “Now here’s an interesting question …” ahh, well what a rich woman I’d be! I am drawn to “the deep end of the ocean” and I’m simply not content snorkeling around the surface. I want to know the why’s and the how come’s and the what about’s! Like a festering splinter, I can’t just pull it out and let go. I have to go in & dig around, bleed a little and maybe pour some Hydrogen Peroxide on the wound to see what will bubble up.

Beyond my morbid curiosity, I have a sincere belief in asking the hard questions. It is a good thing. None of us should just go forward blindly, and questions have always helped me “double check” my thoughts, clarify my beliefs, guide my path. In that line, the friends I value most have been the ones who have been patently honest with me, those who know both my strengths & (more importantly) my weaknesses and are willing to say, “Hey, I’m not sure about what you’re doing here, are you?” Sometimes their questions have caused a change of course and sometimes they haven’t, but I’ve always been grateful for that pause to reflect. No matter what, I KNEW with every part of my being that they came to me from a place of love, wanting the very best for me. These friends are a true blessing, and the kind I strive to be.

It is because of that belief that long ago I decided I did not want “yes” friends, nor did I intend to be one. You know the type, those people who will say things just because they think that’s what you want to hear? She’s the one you call when you’re irritated with your husband (not that I ever am) and she says, “Yeah, you’re right! He is a jerk!” That’s a “yes” friend. Real friends get you back on track with thoughtful questions: “Do you think maybe he felt …?” “Real” friends help you reframe — or as my Mom says, “let go and get a better hold.”

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

~Arnold Glasow

I believe that our culture is filled with too much of the “You go, Girl!” mentality. We would rather agree with our friends than risk upsetting the apple cart: what if she gets mad at me, what if I hurt her feelings, what if …” blah, blah. So we opt to just stand there, clenching our fists and propping each other up with the “Yeah-Yeah” crutch, even when it’s NOT in our best interest to do so.

Of course, I do believe a lot of people just think to themselves, “It’s not my business; Who am I to say anything about that,” and so they hold their tongue. But how does that serve? Don’t we want the very best for our friends? Isn’t that the real question of friendship?

Side Note: Let me just say that I do think it is important to respect the intimate boundaries of delving deep. I am all too aware that’s a threshold I frequently breech & needs to be checked at the door. (“Ganesha, Ganesha, where for art thou?”) Perhaps the key is in the languaging – come in Judith Lasater, come in! Perhaps we could employ her strategy in these critical moments: “Are you willing to hear some feedback?”

And then — oh yeah — RESPECT whatever answer comes our way.

One final thought … Not EVERYONE is worth airtime. There are those with their own agendas so it’s always important to discern who’s who before taking in their opinions. But then that’s another post.

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I taught my first class of the new year today. This is a group of women with whom I work and they were instrumental in throwing me “into the seat of the teacher” long ago whether I was ready or not. Their willingness to be my yoga guinea pigs has touched my heart. Because I work at an elementary school, we have not practiced for the last month. As I told them, reconvening gives me great satisfaction even though we missed the energy and spirit of our fellow yoginis who had other commitments today and could not join us. Which reminds me of something that Noah Maze said at the workshop last month … “Do you know why we practice at yoga? To prepare us for the ADVANCED practice required to live our lives off the mat!” I like that.

The Judith Lasater Relax & Renew workshop was incredibly educational & motivational. For whatever reasons, her words hit me in just the right way and have resonated deeply. One of the biggest themes I took away from the workshop was the importance of LANGUAGING. What we say becomes our thoughts and our thoughts become our beliefs so we should carefully guard our words. Read that again (but slower): What we say … becomes our thoughts … and our thoughts … become our beliefs. So, my friends, we should carefully & diligently choose our words.

Now, consider the words “have to” and “need to.” (Judith reminded us that the only things we HAVE to do is die. Pretty much everything else is a choice.) With that thought, she issued the assignment to practice phrasing our “to do’s” (both verbal and non-verbal) with the words, “I choose to …” So, stop right now and think of something you currently “have to do.” Maybe it’s wash your hair, fix dinner, go on a diet, go for a mammogram, meditate, whatever. Now replace the “have to” with “choose to” and even go a bit further (if it helps) with the “BECAUSE.” Such as:

  • I choose to wash my hair now so that I have more time in the morning
  • I choose to fix dinner so that my family has a healthy meal.
  • I choose to watch what I eat so that I can lose weight that makes me uncomfortable & takes away from my quality of life.
  • I choose to have a mammogram to take care of myself and my health.

Think about how the CHOICE of language influences how you feel about any of those particular tasks.

I told a story today about my husband, Brian. He likes things to be “clutter free.” He’s not that picky about clean, but he doesn’t like to come home to dishes or the kids’ belongings scattered about or my cosmetics on the counter. Now those things don’t really bother me — huge surprise for those of you who know me, I’m sure — but I learned very early in our marriage that he ends up in a much better mood when he walks in the door of a tidy home. This has translated into a 20+ year daily 4:30 dash around the house to “pick up” before he gets home with the phrase pattern in my head: “I HAVE to pick up before he walks in the door,” which isn’t really true. I don’t HAVE to. And think of the RESENTMENT just those TWO words can lead to: “I have to stop what I’M doing (emailing, reading, Oprah 🙂 whatever) to do THIS for him. It’s not Brian imposing that thought-process. It’s me! All me.

So now, take that same scenario and put in the words, “I CHOOSE to stop what I’m doing and tidy up because I want Brian to know that I value him & I want him to feel relaxed when he walks in the door.” Feel the shift? It completely changes it from a place of resentment to a place of love, from a self-imposed demand to a free choice. There is so much power, responsibility and ultimately FREEDOM in that perspective. I have the power to create my own experience, I am responsible for my life (not a victim of someone else’s) and I am FREE to do whatever I want. Really, I am. And so are you.

So, if you choose to accept the mission, become CONSCIOUS of your CHOICES. Work to replace every HAVE TO — both verbal and thought based — with a CHOOSE TO. And PLEASE report back. I’d love to hear your experiences.

I challenge you all to CHOOSE your life. Stay strong in your ADVANCED practice until we meet again on the mat.


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Ari & I are in Dallas for Judith Lasater’s Restorative Yoga training. We drove up early this morning, a drive punctuated by stops at McDonald’s (hashbrowns for Ari) and Starbuck’s (coffee for Pam). We arrived in good time, thanks to Ari’s great navigational skills and schlepped our gi-normous bags of props into the art gallery where we took our places along with about 65 others. As Genevieve promised, Judith is filled wise & thought-provoking commentary and I find myself frequently scrambling for a pen to write down her “Quotable Quotes.”

And then there is the endearing way that she reminds us of our beloved J-Mo with her directness when she inquires (each & every time), “May I touch you?” before adjusting. She amazes me by her proficient redirection of off-topic questions & run-on commentary by workshop participants like me! 🙂 There is much to learn from her.

This prop-intensive practice is an interesting one for sure, and I’m learning about a very different style of yoga than what I have practiced to date. I am thankful that Ari is here with me to “support” me and share the experience. With her permisssion to share, the two of us are pictured below working very hard to master these poses.

Ari & Me

F.Y.I ~ Judith recommended the blanket over my head to soothe my “deranged vata” dosha. (Can you believe she called me a “DERANGED Vata”?! ) After a brief encounter, she recommended that I practice — just for these 4 days — moving 10% slower than normal … just to see how it goes. So, Ari is now my speed-monitor. She’ll let you know how I do!

last-roll-19.jpgMore later …With Love from Big D,


(and r.e. too, I’m sure!)

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A short list for jump-starting your home practice including: cable TV, DVDs, books & one website …

ROCK ON, You Go-Getters!



TIME WARNER DIGITAL CABLE subscribers already have access to one of the best resources right at their extended fingertips. FIT-TV (channel 220 in Austin, TX) runs a daily yoga show, Namaste Yoga. Not only is it highly touted, it’s offered 3 times a day, just in case you don’t have TiVo. DVD’s can be awesome, but the same sequence will ulitimately get boring. These 30-minute shows are well-instructed, relaxing and easy-to-follow. If you have access to this channel, I’d certainly start here first before buying a DVD.

In Austin, Namaste Yoga is shown at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 5:00 p.m. daily (central). Be sure to note that the schedule of upcoming shows is posted for with Eastern Time. Also, the same episode runs in all 3 time slots on any given day, so if you can record, just set the timer for ONE of the times.

“FitTV’s new series, Namaste Yoga, introduces you to the graceful flow of sequenced Yoga phrases. And if you’re looking for an excellent exercise routine, Namaste is ideal. It introduces newcomers to the world of Yoga, and provides those more experienced with a structural regime to practice. The series is designed and narrated by Kate Potter, one of Canada’s leading Yoga teachers.”


On DVD (3 Titles)

There are many titles offered — some worthwhile and some just adequate. Let me preface MY recommendations with the caveat that I have not actually practiced along with any of these. However, all three have been highly recommended by other yoga practitioners & teachers who I respect.

FYI … A great place for very inexpensive exercise (yoga, pilates, etc.) DVD’s and videos in Austin, Texas is Half-price Books. No guarantee that you’ll find exactly what you want but the cost is substantially cheaper than at a retail store. When you can pick up a video for $4 you don’t feel too bad if it’s not exactly what you wanted.

Shiva Rea – Yoga Shakti (2004) Starring: Jean-Michel Jarre, Marc Caro

Amazon Info

Editorial Reviews from Amazon.com
Comprehensive but user-friendly, reasonably challenging but accessible to a variety of levels, Yoga Shakti is inarguably one of the best yoga products on the market–no small achievement when one considers just how many of them there are. Instructor-creator Shiva Rea, a California-based yogi of considerable international renown, specializes in vinyasa yoga (a vinyasa is essentially a series of flowing, connected poses, incorporating breath and movement and cultivating heat, strength, flexibility, and balance). Four complete practices are presented, ranging in length from 42 to 85 minutes and including Basic Flow (for beginners), two more vigorous Solar Flow sequences, and a Lunar Flow sequence falling somewhere in the middle in terms of degree of difficulty; familiar poses like sun salutations, forward bends, lunges, twists, and inversions are featured, although Rea adds many of her own touches (such as the four “dancing warrior” sections, sun salutation variations designed for intermediate users and focusing on hips, backbends, and so on), and there are also sections devoted to pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. It’s all good, but the principal innovation of Yoga Shakti is the “yoga matrix,” which allows users to customize and program their own workouts, drawing on portions of any or all of the four sequences to create series of various lengths and levels of intricacy (some guidelines are suggested for the less experienced) and thus keep their practices fresh and evolving. One can also do the various workouts with or without the instruction audio track on (the Indian-New Age-flavored music is quite good, and usually unobtrusive), and there’s even an entire second disc, containing interviews, additional instruction, travel footage (filming took place primarily in India and the Maldive Islands), and more. All in all, Yoga Shakti is most impressive. –Sam Graham


A.M. and P.M. Yoga for Beginners (2000) Starring: Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden Director: Steve Adams

Amazon Info

This DVD is very popular with two instructors are who are highly-respected and trained. It contains (2) 20-minute sequences — one for morning, one for evening. Nice if you just want a little yoga to start and end your day but may not offer much of a challenge.

Editorial Reviews from Amazon.com
A.M. Yoga for Beginners: “The morning is a precious time,” says the narrator of A.M. Yoga for Beginners. “Just as the sun rises and falls, so do our natural rhythms. The morning is perfect time to open our bodies and center our minds.” This 20-minute yoga practice with supple instructor Rodney Yee is the perfect way to start your day by energizing your body and calming your mind. Filmed on the beach at Maui at sunrise, the video starts with a 4-minute Conscious Relaxation focusing on breathing, then glides into a 14-minute series of yoga poses that are simultaneously relaxing and energizing. It ends with a 2-minute seated Guided Meditation to center your body and mind. Yee’s instruction is detailed and gentle. The video is beautifully filmed: you watch the waves roll in as Yee demonstrates yoga poses on a sandy beach. The yoga practice awakens and stretches your muscles gently, leaving you balanced and focused. “Yoga is the foundation of my day,” says Yee. “A few minutes in the morning will help give meaning to your day.” –Joan Price

P.M. Yoga for Beginners: “The evening is the perfect time to calmly transition between being active and being quiet,” says Patricia Walden, instructor of P.M. Yoga for Beginners. “One of the greatest gifts yoga has to offer is deep relaxation.” This 20-minute program is designed to balance, calm, and revitalize you at the end of the day. It starts with centering poses: gentle stretches bringing awareness and quiet to your senses. Next are standing poses to release tension, increase circulation, expand the lungs, and help you breathe more deeply. Next, forward bends cool the body and bring quiet to the nervous system. The final restorative poses are so relaxing that you may fall asleep. Walden tells you not only how to do the poses, but what you should feel, and how to quiet your body and your mind. Instruction is soothing and explicit. Although this video is aimed at beginners, seldom are modifications given for the less flexible novice, so if any pose causes discomfort or seems impossible, don’t push beyond your personal comfort level. The video was filmed on the windswept sands of Death Valley. –Joan Price


Ali MacGraw – Yoga Mind & Body (1994) Starring: Ali MacGraw, Erich Schiffmann Director: Claudio Droguett

Amazon Info

One of my first yoga instructors suggested this one to me. This one moves through the sun salutation sequence and offers both shorter and longer sequences!

Amazon.com Editorial Reviews:
Clean white sand and a cool predawn sky are the backdrops for this stunningly produced video, complete with an upbeat New Age soundtrack. Don’t be put off by the MTV-like camera work, as this video constitutes an excellent, well-balanced workout. Ali MacGraw and a supporting cast of something-for-everyone models work through this 50-minute routine, overseen by yoga master Erich Schiffman. The first minutes focus on ujjayi breathing, then MacGraw leads us through a complete practice of shoulder stretches, sun salutations, back bends and twists, and standing poses. No equipment is required, but a sticky mat is recommended. Unlike other videos targeted for beginners, Yoga Mind & Body does not offer modifications for difficult poses and so is best suited for practitioners with some previous experience. — Jhana Bach

Product Description: Explore a unique daily fitness regimen with actress Ali McGraw and yoga works, presenting a combination of short and long physical workouts and meditation periods to achieve well-being in body and mind. Year: 1994 Director: Claudio Droguett Starring: Ali MacGraw


BOOK Recommendations (Two Titles)

Yoga Your Way: Customizing Your Home Practice (Spiral-bound) by Cindy Dollar (Author), Susanna MacKenzie Euston (Author)

Amazon Info

If you buy only one book for home practice, get this one. Very good, very easy to follow, useful information and a great price!

Editorial Reviews From Publishers Weekly
For yoga fans who’d like to test their prowess at home but are feeling unsure of where to begin and how to proceed, Dollar and Euston offer a handily designed guide to the whole process. Beginning with instructions on how to set up a yoga space at home—all you really need is a quiet spot with a hard floor—their book provides 31 possible routines (a.k.a., practices) that range from 10 minutes to 45 minutes each. The spiral bound book is designed with a split in the middle, so that readers can keep the practice list on one side while flipping through the pose instructions on the other. There are plenty of photos and clear advice to be found here. Novices are sure to find the book’s indices (by time, theme and body area) helpful, but advanced home yoga practitioners probably won’t need any help figuring out that a good restoring practice always ends in corpse pose.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description: A unique split-page format helps yoga lovers easily personalize their routines—and keep their home practice varied, fun, and highly individual. With the help of this unique and innovative manual, yoga practitioners can work to their optimum level and tailor their exercise to fit their individual needs. The secret lies in the split-page design that features 40 poses, or asanas, on one side and 30 practice routines on the other. Every yogi will be able to construct an ideal session, whether the desire is for a quick 10-minute routine to destress or a full 45-minute workout that strengthens back muscles. Color photos capture the intricacies of each movement; notes on details and variations accompany each pose; and there are observations, advice, and frequently asked questions for particular positions. Beginners will especially appreciate the valuable information on creating a pleasant practice environment, using the book in conjunction with other yoga instructions, and finding and working with props.


The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health: A Lifelong Guide to Wellness (Paperback) by Linda Sparrowe (Author), Patricia Walden (Author), Judith Hanson Lasater (Foreword)

Amazon Info

This book is great for practitioners who are interested in sequences for women’s issues — PMS, depression, anxiety, energizing, restorative, back issues, osteoperosis prevention, menopause, eating disorders/body image. Good clear descriptions and pictures, lots of modifications, & shows how to use a chair, wall, blankets, & straps to assist your practice. Good information on the benefits of each pose and also contains info on those who should avoid doing any particular pose or sequence.

Editorial Reviews From Booklist
Sparrowe, former editor of Yoga Journal, has teamed up with one of the most preeminent yoga instructors in the country, Walden, to put together a comprehensive guide to yoga for women. The book contains numerous yoga sequences and photos and is designed to be a lifelong reference guide for female practitioners. Basic sequences for women are covered as well as recommended sequences for pregnancy and menstruation. The chapters for later stages of life are particularly helpful, with sequences addressing such issues as erratic mood swings and hot flashes. Sparrowe and Walden are frank about their own experiences with aging and also draw on the experiences of other seasoned yoga practitioners to provide honest, practical advice. The book covers many other health issues, with relevance to both men and women, such as eating disorders, back problems, depression, and immune system disorders. Jane Tuma
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


AND OH, SO MANY MORE … Tons of other books that I love with all different slants. If you are interested in any particular focus, I’d be happy to make some further recommendations: from yoga philosophy to yoga for particular health issues (bad backs, knees) to yoga for men to yoga for a particular sport.


Finally … Best General Yoga Website Resource: YOGA JOURNAL

Offering a VAST archive of articles from Yoga Journal. The search engine is awesome — you can look up every kind of pose, find sequences (say balancing) or search for info on “tight hips” or “wrist problems.” You can learn more about yoga philosophy, the meaning of namaste, why people chant “om” It is all encompassing! You can subscribe to 6 different newsletters — from a daily insight to a weekly eating wisely update. If you’re curious at all about anything yoga, you’re sure to find it here.


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