Monthly Archives: June 2014

Accomplished, Calm and Filled with Purpose

Kirsten Van Mourick
As I walk into my ashtanga Mysore class, I am welcomed by the sight of the sun rising through the window, comforted by the sound of feet moving across yoga mats, awakened by the smell of incense, and energized by the empowering focus I feel in the air. I greet my teacher with only a smile and drop my mat in my favorite spot in the room. After settling at the top of my mat in a cross-legged position, I close my eyes in mediation. In the still, quiet of the room, the familiar warm feeling comes to me: this is why I need yoga.

Ashtanga yoga is a very traditional and sacred practice unlike any other. The ashtanga system consists of six series of poses, each of which is always taught in a specific sequential order. First and second series are of approximately equal difficulty with hard poses and moderately tame ones in each. You enter the ashtanga world by learning the primary series. Once you have memorized the primary series by taking led classes or studying on your own, you may feel ready to come to Mysore class.

The Mysore practice is open for about 3 hours and usually done in the morning. Unlike many yoga practices, this class is not led. You will start and end at your own pace. There is one teacher who assists/adjusts you as needed and will guide you into your next series only when he or she deems you are ready. Most ashtanga yoga shalas are considered “schools” and take practice very seriously.

It does not matter who you are, your first Mysore class will be intimidating. You’ll probably forget a pose or do something wrong, and your teacher will correct you. It might feel embarrassing but you are reminded that no one cares about your mistakes or where you are in your practice. Everyone is there for his or her own personal practice, and there is no judgement for being a new student.

There is something so special about a Mysore class. It’s a community of people who work hard to find their own peace within the practice. Everyone is so dedicated and they take practice seriously. There are no mirrors, there is no music, no added stimuli except the sound of your ujjayi breath. I come to my mat every morning with purpose and with love because of what is created in Mysore. I leave everyday feeling ready to take on the day feeling accomplished, calm and filled with purpose. I come alive when faced with that kind of discipline, in the still and the quiet…and that’s when I need Mysore.

Running Free

Kirsten Van Mourick
After I had my son last July, I began running again as soon as my doctor could say, “fine, go for it, you lunatic!” :) I knew I wanted to put a race on the calendar quickly, because it is so much easier to hit the road regularly when you know you are going to have to suffer through 13-24 miles whether you’ve trained or not. I had some base training to do…I was able to run up until 38 weeks in my pregnancy, but obviously my mileage and pace had dropped to a short waddle. My amazing son slept in the BOB for 3-5 runs a week, and before long, I was on track enough to sign up for the La Jolla Half Marathon.

THEN the plague hit. Repeatedly. It was just back to back, back and forth colds in the Van Mourick household November through March. Ryder was either too sick to suffer through runs, or I was. I kept resuming training, setting my sights on a different race, and then feeling a sore throat coming on. Finally, the germ-y dust settled, and I bought a “no refund” spot at the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon for the end of June. If I had to wear an oxygen tank, I was going to finish a race before that beautiful little snot factory turned one.

And I’ve got to say in all honesty, this is the least seriously I’ve ever taken a race. I legitimately felt that simply finishing it would be such a success (post birth), that I was not in the least stressed out about pacing (for once). I was also excited to have an entire weekend alone in a hotel; that alone would have sold me on the experience. :) And it was AMAZING!

At 4:30 am I got up in the dark with thousands of other fellow Crazies, got to my starting corral, and for the first time EVER, I wasn’t nervous or anxious. I wasn’t distracted by thoughts of qualifying for Boston, or fears of injury. I was just excited to be stroller-less!!! :) And this relaxed state allowed me to go out in a careful, slower than normal pace, which I was able to increase pretty consistently until the last mile. Around mile 10, I did some quick math, and realized that if I kept going at this pace, and maybe pushed a bit, I could EASILY PR. I was shocked! Running on average 3 days a week, doing the bare minimum of distance training, and throwing cheerios at my son every five minutes had produced a faster time than training with a coach!

I finished in 1:46:17, and felt amazing. Since I had traveled alone that weekend (my husband was out of town, and my mother in law kindly took in my kiddo) no one was there to greet me at the finish line, but being met by those finishing stats was enough to give me smiles for days. The moral of the story, for me, was a microcosm of what motherhood is all about. You’re family is the most important thing in the world, but you can only do Mommy-hood well when you do YOU well. Dream big. Chase PR’s. And don’t forget to give yourself a break and maybe have some fun (you might get both!). ;)

A HUGE thanks to Cozy Orange for suiting me up in the most comfy, speedy, and flattering race gear I’ve every run in! You guys are the best.

Much Love,
Kirsten Van Mo

One layer at a time

Today’s Word of the Day: Onion.

If you’ve ever seen Shrek, you may recall the moment when Shrek tells Donkey that Ogres are like onions, they have layers.

I find that people are like onions too.

When in my home studio, I find it to be a very sacred place. Why?

Well, I’ve put in a lot of hard work there. I’ve practiced through some very difficult, sweaty, emotional classes there.

More importantly, I’ve shed a lot of my layers there.

What I mean by that is, before every class, I typically have some sort of layer that could use shedding. It may be negativity, rudeness, harshness, impatient tendencies, self centeredness, etc. The list can go on and on for layers that do not serve me.

But for some reason, I typically don’t fully shed those layers, until after my yoga class.

Now I don’t show up to EVERY class with something negative to shed. And sometimes I don’t even know I have something to gain by losing something, until about half way through the class.

The point is, underneath all of the onion layers lies something beautiful.

It’s center.

It’s center where life can grow.

This is why I say I believe people to be similar to onions.

Underneath all of the layers, lies our truth, our center, our place where life can grow.

Namaste Onions,

Seeking Adventure

Jackie Maher

When someone speaks of the need to “seek an adventure” do you immediately roll your eyes? Is the first thought in your brain “I’m not adventurous”? For some of us adventure tends to be described by activities, which create physical exhaustion and push mental limits to create a thrill, but that is not really what adventure is. An adventure can happen anywhere, any time, it is experiencing something new, different, and may be out of your comfort zone.

This past weekend my mom visited Moab, Utah from Stroudsburg, PA. (My mom was born and raised in Queens, NY) She is in her sixties, now a retired teacher, and beginning to travel more. I decided this visit I needed to plan activities, which would show her Moab as well as be fun. First we hiked Fisher’s Towers, then went zip lining at Raven’s Rim Zip Line (my current line of work), not limit pushing, but a first for her.

The next day we went Stand Up Paddle boarding on the Colorado River! She had never SUPed before and I took her through rapids in a river, which is currently flooding instead of on a calm lake. She stayed positive and had a blast! We then packed the car and went camping for her first time in a place so amazing I feel it cannot be described by words. She made her first real Smore, slept in a tent, enjoyed breakfast and coffee, then geared up to hike in Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.

Every day was packed with firsts for her, which happen to be normal activities for me. However, being able to experience them with my mom for the first time allowed an adventure for me as well! I was able to see my mom push through nerves and fears of unknowing. I was also able to be there for her to reassure it was okay. She fell in one time while SUPing, which was kind of my fault. At first I saw panic wash over her face until I talked her through holding onto the board and floating through the rapids until calm water. She took a breath and went with it, got back on the board and loved every second after.

New experiences do not have to be limit testing for them to be adventures all you need is the courage to take a chance and the mindset of staying positive. I recommend in any type of adventure, partake with a calm positive attitude. I have been in situations where adventures have taken a negative turn, I can honestly say staying positive and calm afford the best outcome. I encourage all to switch up daily routines or help someone else venture into a new experience.

Life is lived, experienced, and learned through adventure.

The Stand Up Paddle Yoga Experience

Jackie Maher

It was a sizzling 101°F and the hot Arizona sun was beating down on my stand up paddleboard. In contrast, the water at Canyon Lake was a refreshing 79°F with the red rocky mountain cliffs that reflected off the glassy water. On a weekday in early May no one was out on the lake but a few fishing boats. On my way back from a long paddle from Horse Mesa Dam, I took great joy in seeing a Great Blue Heron as it sunbathed on a nearby rock. There were three bighorn sheep spying on me from the top of the cliffs. As I made my way near Blue Tank Cove, I made a drift anchor as I attached my paddle to my leash… I began my yoga practice.

Stand Up Paddle Yoga can enhance an individual’s yoga practice because the board responds to the movement of the yoga practitioner. For example, when executing Downward-Facing Dog on an unstable surface, an individual will suddenly notice if they are exerting too much force through one side of the body more then the other, because the board will react. The use of breath becomes visible on an unstable surface, if the board begins to rock from side to side, the yoga practitioner can stabilize the board with the use of their breath. In addition, bringing your yoga practice to the outdoors can rejuvenate the mind and soul. I was born and raised in Arizona, and bought my first stand up paddle board in 2008. I was amazed at how many other stand up paddle yogi’s there were around the world, how their practice was impacting communities. So, I created Namaste SUP, a free global community that brings stand up paddle yoga enthusiasts from around the world together. I invite you to take your practice to an unstable surface and find a stand up paddle yoga class near you.