Archive

Tag Archives: Hot Yoga Charlottesville



Returning to the Miracle & Wonder routine (created 7 years ago in honor of the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland album) was rich and varied and…fun (how could “a rolly polly little bat faced girl” not be?)! Thanks to all who came out to be amazed not just by our miraculous bodies, but the wonder of Paul Simon’s music.

I love the interweavings and collaborations in the Graceland album. You can find the scoop on the original focus of the routine here. And there is a great interview with Simon about the making of the Graceland song here. And The Google reveals lots of great videos and interviews to check out about his fascinating creative process. And finally, one of the things I admire so much about Paul Simon’s work is his poetry. You can find all the lyrics of the routine here.

Miracle & Wonder was a great routine to explore this week’s focus of Proprioception & Interoception. You can find all the playlists below. If you’d like to listen to them, you can find almost all the music on Spotify where you can listen for free! Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the music we dance to!

But first, here are some things I know you want to know about:

Reminder about Upcoming Nia schedule shifts
*Fri 9/7 9am Downtown A Mary Linn teaches this class for the fall schedule
*Fri 9/7 545pm Downtown Jeanne teaches this class for the fall schedule
*Sun 9/9 315pm Downtown cancelled for early club closure

Buddha Cat: Learning Awareness, Presence & Self-Care from a Teacher Who Sometimes Barf on the Bed … Are Going Fast!
Buddha Cat is on sale now! If you haven’t yet, you can go to http://www.susanmcculley.com and sign up to be a Buddha Cat Backer. You will then have access to discount codes for free shipping and reduced prices on books — now extended through September 16. Well more than half of the books have gone to good homes so now is the time to place an order!

Buddha Cat Now Available at Two Local Bookstores!
If you’d rather not order online and/or if you’d like to support an independent bookstore, you can find the book at two local establishments!

Over The Moon Bookstore at 2025 Library Ave in Crozet, Virginia. It’s a beautiful store filled with great books, lovely things and chocolate and is well worth a visit.
New Dominion Bookshop on the downtown mall at 404 E Main St in Charlottesville, Virginia. New Dominion is the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia, and carries books in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature, and a unique selection of architecture and landscape gardening resources…as well as Buddha Cat. Please do go in, ask for Buddha Cat by name and support local artists, local booksellers and local cats.

Buddha Cat Art & Book Exhibit Reception on Friday, September 14, 6-730pm
A selection of drawings and mixed media pieces including some from the Buddha Cat book will be displayed at Buck Mountain Episcopal Church’s Deese Hall September 1-30 (4133 Earlysville Rd, Earlysville, VA 22936). A reception for Buddha Cat and More: Mixed-media Drawings and Book will be held there on Friday, September 14 from 6-730pm. Please join us to celebrate art, community, delight and insight.

Buddha Cat & More Art at Hot Yoga Charlottesville in October
A selection of drawings and mixed media pieces including some from the Buddha Cat book will be displayed at Hot Yoga Charlottesville (216 Water St W Ste 103, Charlottesville, VA 22902) October 9-November 9. We’ll have art for sale and snacks for snacking on Saturday, October 13, 12noon-1pm. Come sweat and celebrate.

Buddha Cat Book Launch Party on Saturday, Nov 3, 2-3pm at New Dominion Bookshop
Come to the historic New Dominion Bookshop on the historic downtown mall for a book launch party! I’ll be signing books and you can do some early holiday shopping and there will be very cool people there (you!) and, of course, snacks! Please join us.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or how I can help more.
Dance on. Shine on.
Susan sig

Monday, Sep 3, 2018, 1045am ~ Proprioception & Interoception (Miracle & Wonder)

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes 5:48 Paul Simon
All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints 3:15 Paul Simon
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Graceland 4:51 Paul Simon
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
You Can Call Me Al 4:40 Paul Simon
Crazy Love, Volume II 4:19 Paul Simon
Gumboots 2:45 Paul Simon
Can’t Run But 3:37 Paul Simon
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
Born At The Right Time 3:48 Paul Simon
St. Judy’s Comet 3:19 Paul Simon
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel

Tuesday, Sep 4, 2018, 840am ~ Proprioception & Interoception (Miracle & Wonder)

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes 5:48 Paul Simon
All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints 3:15 Paul Simon
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Graceland 4:51 Paul Simon
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
You Can Call Me Al 4:40 Paul Simon
Gumboots 2:45 Paul Simon
Can’t Run But 3:37 Paul Simon
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
St. Judy’s Comet 3:19 Paul Simon
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel

Wednesday, Sep 5, 2017, 11am ~ Proprioception & Interoception (Miracle & Wonder)

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes 5:48 Paul Simon
All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints 3:15 Paul
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Graceland 4:51 Paul Simon
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
You Can Call Me Al 4:40 Paul Simon
That Was Your Mother 2:55 Paul Simon
Can’t Run But 3:37 Paul Simon
So Beautiful Or So What 4:09 Paul Simon
Spirit Voices 3:56 Paul Simon
St. Judy’s Comet 3:19 Paul Simon
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel

Thursday, Sep 6, 2017, 840am ~ Proprioception & Interoception (Miracle & Wonder)

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes 5:48 Paul Simon
All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints 3:15 Paul
The Obvious Child 4:10 Paul Simon
Graceland 4:51 Paul Simon
I Know What I Know 3:13 Paul Simon
The Boy in the Bubble 3:59 Paul Simon
You Can Call Me Al 4:40 Paul Simon
That Was Your Mother 2:55 Paul Simon
Can’t Run But 3:37 Paul Simon
Spirit Voices 3:56 Paul Simon
St. Judy’s Comet 3:19 Paul Simon
Under African Skies 3:37 Paul Simon
The Boy In The Bubble 4:30 Peter Gabriel

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NIA?

For more information about Nia and this rich system of training and learning? Everything Nia is at http://www.nianow.com…
If you’re traveling or moving, you can find a teacher or classes wherever you’re going.
Interested in teaching or deepening your practice? Check out the Nia White Belt Training. They are offered all around the world so you can find one near you or where you may want to go!

Advertisements

At the opening of a class at Hot Yoga Charlottesville not long ago, my teacher, Julia von Briesen read this by Roshi Joan Halifax:

All too often our so-called strength comes from fear not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open, representing choiceless compassion. The place in your body where these two meet – strong back and soft front – is the brave, tender ground in which to root our caring deeply.

Right away, I recognized the false “strength” of a brittle, defended heart that strikes out in an unskillful attempt to protect.
I do this a lot in traffic.
And while reading the news.
And otherwise being a scared judgy-pants.

Since hearing this quote (and subsequently printing it out and reading it daily), this has been my practice: (1) when I find myself snapping out at someone
(as in “what do you think you’re doing, pulling out in front of me in your enormous SUV with a bumper sticker I don’t like?”
or as in “what kind of heartless, thoughtless, short-sighted politician are you?”
or any other snarky, angryness that pops out of me),
(2) I pause and say a little metta (or loving kindness) for myself
(as in “may I be safe, may I be loved, may I know peace”)
and
(3) I say a little metta / loving kindness for the person I just snarked on
(as in “may you feel safe, may you feel loved, may you know peace”)

When I do this, I feel a little taste of the choiceless compassion that Roshi Joan Halifax tells of. It’s not much, I grant you. But it’s a start.

What can you do today that will strengthen your spine, your core, and soften your heart?

prayer flags“One step at a time.” ~ Kirk, Susan’s yoga teacher

Part 1

Soon after I started my Nia training, I was telling a more experienced teacher my plans for completing all the levels of training as fast as possible and “making Nia happen” in Charlottesville. She looked at me kindly and told me a story about a famous Buddhist teacher who listened to similar plans from a student. The story goes that the teacher got a serious look and said, “Attachment to outcome: beeeeeeg problem.”

I had no idea what she was talking about.

I am a product of the American educational and corporate system. Until leaving my office job to teach Nia in 2000, I had spent my life working for the grades, striving for the job, closing the deal and getting the signing. Goal-orientation was the only way I knew how to approach anything: see what you want and make it happen.

My friend’s story and the Buddhist teaching of non-attachment baffled me.

Part 2

savoring step by step standing separate leg head to knee

I was doing my best to tuck my chin to my chest and place my forehead on my knee in Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose (Dandayamana-Bibhaktapata-Janushirasana) when my teacher, Madelyn said, “If you don’t practice this pose with your hands together, you will never do this pose with your hands together.”

I giggled at this (as much as giggling is possible when upside down with throat choked and sweat dripping into the nose) because I saw her point. If I am aiming toward something but I don’t do the steps to get there, I’ll never get there.

The key, as Yoga Mastah Kirk often points out (see his oft repeated quote above), is to do one step at a time and be in each step completely, without expectation or attachment to outcome.

Part 3

michael-franti and guitar

This week, we’re launching a project of gratitude and invitation to one of my favorite musical artists, Michael Franti.* His music moves me, literally and figuratively, and I want to thank him for the difference he makes in my life and in my work.

I also want to invite him to dance in a Nia class and do yoga with us in Charlottesville … and oh yeah, also give us a concert.

The plan is to hand-deliver a community-created strand of prayer flags that express our appreciation and welcome him to come and play with us. As I’ve been making preparations and announcements about the idea and the project, lots of people have said they are excited and want to be part of it. I’ve also heard, “He probably won’t come” and “It’ll never happen” and “He won’t do it.”

I want Michael Franti to come to Charlottesville. I want him to dance with my class and practice yoga at my studio. I want to meet him and shake his hand (who am I kidding? I want to throw my arms around him and squeeze him senseless).  I want to let him know how much his art means to me. But the process of dreaming about it, coming up with the idea (it was a group effort, culminating in Rebecca’s prayer flag idea), making plans, making the prayer flags with my community and sending them off to him are all steps along the way.  I’m having fun with each step.

I hope he comes. I really do. But whatever happens, it doesn’t matter. I’m having a great time doing the steps.

Now, who wants to make some flags with me?

* For more about our Franti to Charlottesville project, go here and here.

body teacher lizzie“I’m Lizzie and I’ll be leading you through class this morning. I may offer corrections or suggest adjustments, but your body is your teacher. Always listen to your body first.” ~ Lizzie, my yoga teacher who I adore

Let’s say it’s Monday morning at 10:45am. Wise creature that you are, you’ve stepped into the studio where I am setting up for Nia class. When you walk into the room, you see me plugging in my iPod, checking the volume, then standing in front wearing the microphone. I lead some super cool choreography, reminding you to sense your body. Also, I tell hilarious stories. Seeing all this, you might say I was the teacher.

When you come to my class, I am your guide.
I am your witness.
I am your fellow practitioner.
But your body is your teacher.

Our bodies are incredible systems of sensation that are constantly communicating with us about what is happening and what it needs. Despite this wealth of information we rarely listen or trust our own sense of ourselves. Often we ask other people about our own health and well-being. We hire doctors and psychologists, nutritionists and trainers, physical therapists and chiropractors. They all have potentially helpful and insightful information to share based on their training and education. They certainly can offer guidance in making choices about your body and your health.

The first teacher to turn to, though, is your body.

Right now, check into your body. Take a second to stop reading and just sense what is so in your body right now. When I do this, I sense that my feet are cold, I need to use the bathroom and I’m thirsty. But here I sit, writing this post, with my mind overriding the needs of my body. (Hold on. I’ll be right back after I get some socks and tea and have a pee.)

We’re trained to do this. Our culture glorifies those who forget to eat, work long hours, hardly sleep. A lifetime of mind-overriding-body can leave us at a loss as to what’s actually happening inside our own skins, our own minds, our own hearts.

A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. The doctors told her to have a lumpectomy and to do it immediately. She didn’t. She took a month to make the decision. She did research, she talked to lots of people (some medical folk and some not), she listened to her intuition, and she listened to her body. At the end of the month she decided to have a double mastectomy. The doctors strongly disagreed but she held to her choice. When she went in for her operation, the surgeons saw that the lump was not as well-defined as they had believed. They would have had to go in for a second surgery if she had followed their suggestion. The best choice was exactly the one she made.

Go to experts. Do. Listen to what they have to say. But also listen to your body.

The mind can be a guiding, caring force or it can tangle us up. A focused mind is alert to an urge that distracts us from what is happening. A scared or impatient mind can criticize and judge what we are or are not doing. An anxious mind can convince us we have to push harder or do more. A defeated mind can persuade us that we can’t do what we are attempting. A peaceful mind can soothe and calm us.

Mindfulness yokes the body and mind; gets them pulling in the same direction.

We call them mindfulness practices (whether it’s yoga or meditation or golf or gardening or whatever works for you) because it’s practice. Practice away from the cultural pull to deny the body and worship the expert. Practice so that when life throws us a curve ball or a train wreck or a heartbreakingly beautiful sunset, we can be there for it. Practice allows us to have a direct experience of what is happening right now and connects us to the deep wisdom and intelligence that resides not just in our brains but in our very cells.

All this body wisdom stuff doesn’t have to be heavy or woo-woo. It’s accessible to everybody and it can be fun. I have a great time in my yoga classes even though I’m focused and concentrating. Sometimes it’s challenging, of course, sometimes I’d rather be digging a ditch than doing my practice. But I’m never sorry I spent time listening to my body. However you connect to your body, your greatest teacher, listen to what it has to tell you. If you happen to have a guide who tells hilarious stories, that’s just a bonus.

playing favorites arugula salad 1Here’s what I love: salad. For me, there is nothing like a big pile of greens, some interesting add-ins, and a yummy dressing to make my heart go pitter pat, my mouth water and my tummy go rumbly.

And friends, I have come across the absolutely most delicious fabulous wonderful dressing. I found it on Heidi Swanson’s brilliant food blog, 101 Cookbooks. First, thinly sliced shallots are cooked until crisp in oil to make (what else?) shallot oil, then add a little soy sauce and honey and SHAZAM: Shallot Oil Dressing. (You can see the recipe from which it comes here.) I’m telling you right now, a shingle would taste awesome with this stuff on it.

It is my favorite dressing and here’s the thing: I just. Keep. Making. It.

We all have favorites. Favorites are fun. I’m always a little bit happy when my favorite yoga pants are clean or when my favorite song comes on the radio or when I’m watching Jon Stewart.

It’s helpful for me to remember, though, that at one time all of those things weren’t my favorites. At one time, I didn’t even know about them. My (fully opaque) LuluLemon yoga pants and Michael Franti and shallot oil dressing were just out there, floating, waiting for me to discover them.

Then there are old favorites, something I used to lovelovelove but haven’t worn, done, listened to, or cooked in a long time. This happens to me a lot in my closet at the change of seasons: Oh YEAH, I love that blue sundress (or those felt fingerless gloves or those cowboy boots)!

Sometimes, a favorite was once something I thought I wouldn’t like so I wiggled away from it with my nose scrunched up. Take hot yoga and Brussels sprouts and The Wire, for example. I was circling around them, staying clear of them, until something shifted and I gave them a try. And then, hey!, turns out it was pretty great!

All kinds of favorites are fun.  And a favorite can become a habit. Not a bad habit, necessarily, but a limiting habit. Doing something different takes more effort and energy.  Why bother when I like this thing so much?  Yet it’s so much fun to discover something new and wonderful.  Why not branch out?

The answer may lie in a paradox of what the brain leans toward. The brain loves familiarity and repetition. The brain also loves novelty. (This is why marketers put the words “New” and “Improved” on the same old products and put new packaging on products without changing them. “Same great taste!  Fresh new look!”) Depending on your personality, you may tend more toward one or the other. The key for me is to notice when I’m leaning too heavily on the repetition and when it’s time to shake things up a bit. Like maybe make a Morrocan Carrot Salad or go out to watch the basketball game.

In which direction do you lean?  Do you favor favorites or are you always trying new things?

This week, celebrate your favorites – really savor how much you enjoy them. Go back to some old favorites and reconnect to the pleasure of them. And be open to the possibility that a future favorite might be something that you are avoiding. A Brussels sprout favorite awaits you! There are a world of favorites just floating around, ready for you to find them.

Last night, I found a bottle of Goddess dressing in the cabinet. It used to be my favorite. I think I’ll crack it open. Well, maybe after one more batch of Shallot Oil dressing.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION:  If you take Nia classes with me, write your one of your current favorite Nia song, a old favorite, and maybe a Brussels sprout favorite in the comments below.  I’ll do my very best to include them in classes next week.  Together, we can make some spectacular playlists!  Whether you take class with me or not, I’d love to hear your favorite favorite stories!

%d bloggers like this: