Monthly Archives: June 2010

Everything I Need To Learn, I Learn From Actors

I was at a theatre workshop over the weekend during which we presented audition monologues. Scary as hell, incredible learning. Wish you’d been there. Here are some lessons for life, health, and business from that event: 1. Get in or … Continue reading

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Why Naked Yoga?

hst126.jpgWhat’s with the naked theme? I write a blog about loving home practice, and you, some of you, write in that you love naked yoga. I write a blog about favorite poses, and you write in about naked yoga.

I write a blog about meditation or chanting or acting, for goodness sake, and some of you (is it the same people? The Naked Yoga Alliance? I don’t know!) write back that you love naked yoga.

Billy Connolly, the marvelous Scottish comedian, writes that he loves an ordinary love life with his wife. A meat-and-potatoes kind of lover, he is.  He’s all about comfort. It takes some self-assuredness to admit that.

I feel that way about yoga.

I love yoga in my flannel pajama bottoms. I start with two t-shirts and peel one off as I warm up. Sometimes I start in socks.

This naked thing? I don’t know. It’d be like grocery shopping while naked, or bowling while naked, neither of which is ever going to happen, so don’t feel you should write in about those. Besides, where I live, anyone in a canoe can see me unless I downward dog in the dark.
 
All right, all right! I’ll try it. I’ll try it in the dark (by the park, for a lark, with a shark. I’m going all Dr. Seuss in my nervousness.).

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the conversation, I think.

Kristin Shepherd lives in North Bay, Ontario. She is a chiropractor, workshop facilitator, actor, writer, and parent of two grown children and a perpetually infantile dog.  Check her out, fully clothed, at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd. 

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Everything Starts Again Now

26_OM.jpgYears ago, a friend named Tracy offered me an acting tip that has become part of every on-and-off-stage day of my life. It also affects my yoga.

We were in a play called Good Night Desdemona. I had to travel through time each night by disappearing through an absurdly small garbage can into, well, into the past to meet both Desdemona and Juliet. I climbed towers, faught with swords, was nearly strangled by Desdemona, and iambic pentameter-ed my way through seven enormous monologues that would have humbled Hamlet. It was a monster of a challenge.

On more than one night, I cursed myself for getting something wrong–missing lines, breaking my sword (tough to fight convincingly with a sword stump), not projecting my lines from under the pillow Desdemona used to suffocate me, etc.

One night, Tracy (Desdemona) heard me whacking myself to smithereens at intermission.
“No way,” she said. Gotta stop that.

She said we can’t afford to criticize ourselves. It takes us out of our story, out of our best skills, and it ruins our relationship with other actors and our audience. It ruins our relationship with everything to come.

Practice instant forgiveness, she says. It’s the best tool there is for an actor. Everything starts again now.

This morning, in a seated forward bend, I thought, holy Toledo, my hamstrings are tight. Not enough yoga and too many butter tarts yesterday. (I don’t see the relationship between the two, now, but they felt completely connected this morning.)

And right behind it, like a great actor on cue, I thought; instant forgiveness, honey. Everything starts again now. Which saved the show.

Thanks to Tracy for the acting lesson, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin practices yoga, theatre, public speaking, writing, and chiropractic in North Bay, Ontario, at kristinshepherd.ca and at Dr. Kristin Shepherd on Facebook.

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Union

AA051101.jpgI love yoga because of its solitary nature.

An early morning coffee, my lovely man and dog still in bed, me shuffling to the living room in pajama pants and a t-shirt. Darkness in winter, green grass and blue lake in front of me in summer. This is good, good, good.

The other side of this is that I often have elaborate get-togethers during my practice. This morning was like this.

My daughter is in China. I miss her beautiful face. So, during Warrior II, I reach my fingertips forward and back and imagine my arms growing, circling the world until I can hold her face with both hands.

In seated forward bends, I think of one of my best friends, Riesa, who lives on the other side of the country. She taught me some of my favorite forward bends ten years ago. I miss her voice today.

My mom shows up when I’m trying to open my hips. I suspect we’d both love to be more flexible with each other.

And at the end of my practice, when the time comes to offer the fruits of practice to someone who might benefit (we do this in class, sometimes), I send my love and thanks to Nancy, a theater friend who passed away recently. She was still here when I came back to yoga 8 or 9 months ago. I got into the habit of sending her strength and courage and just kept on after she passed away. My hope is she’s out there somewhere, happy to receive the love.

Who knew home practice could be such a gathering place?

It also makes me wonder who you’re with when you practice.  I’d love to hear.

Thanks to yoga for uniting us all, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd practices yoga, theatre, public speaking, writing, and chiropractic in North Bay, Ontario. Contact her at kristinshepherd.ca and at Dr. Kristin Shepherd on Facebook.

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I am Invincible

SO05_76a.jpgI can do a handstand! I’m 48 and I’ve never said that before.

We learned in class the other day. Rob said to try it if you’re ready, and I thought, no way, that’s not going to happen for me.  Like playing in the NBA, like leaping from the Eiffel Tower and landing on two feet, like flying to Mars. That’s where handstands belonged for me.

Then. We discuss. We prepare. We approach. We inhale one foot up, and exhale the other up.  Okay, I have to fling mine up.) First try, no go. Which is understandable because it’s about 75 miles from the floor to the wall when you’re upside down.

Second try, same thing. Third try, same thing. Then Rob comes over to help. Just slightly, by showing my feet where the wall is.

“Look at a point on the floor between your hands this time,” he says.

And on my fifth try, I fly to Mars. I swear to God, that’s what it feels like. And yes, my ribs are half way across the room, and yes, I need to reach with my heels. I need to do about 300 things to improve my form, but I DID IT!!!!!! The NBA, the Eiffel Tower. A handstand.

I read somewhere in Yoga Journal that a Handstand can change your life–they’re right! It has.  I feel invincible.

Have you tried? Do you hope to? Is this old hat for you? Do you love it? Tell me, please.

Thanks to handstand for changing my life, and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd lives in North Bay, Ontario.  She is a chiropractor, workshop facilitator, actor, writer, and parent of two grown children and a perpetually infantile dog.  Check her out at kristinshepherd.ca or on Facebook at Dr. Kristin Shepherd.

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This is Your Spirit at Work

Here’s something that excites me this week, in terms of choice and human talent. I have a friend who works at Value Village. In theatre we love VV , where you can get clothes and furniture for an entire cast … Continue reading

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Missing Class

hea858.jpgI’ve been away from yoga class for almost two weeks. Granted, I’ve done lots of practice in hotels, other people’s basements, and on the deck of a cottage in beautiful morning sun, but jeepers, I miss class.

This morning someone asked me if I have a dog.

“Do you like yoga?” I replied.

“No,” she said.  “What does that have to do with a dog?”

“Nothing at all.  It’s just the only thing I can think of right now.”

I have lots of these conversations when I’ve been away from class.

I miss my teachers, who are kind and excellent at what they do, and funny while they’re at it.
I miss the other students, most of whom are strangers to me, all of whom love what I love and are therefore friends of a kind.

I miss the sound of people breathing in unison.
I miss the gorgeous, quiet yoga music they play during Savasana.
I miss that dopey feeling that comes from a fully relaxed body and mind.
And I miss chanting om together at the end.  

You forget how lovely all of this is until you’ve been away for a little while. What would you miss if you missed two weeks?

Thanks to my home studio for being there tomorrow (I’m so excited!), and thanks to you for the conversation.

Kristin Shepherd practices yoga, theatre, public speaking, writing, and chiropractic in North Bay, Ontario. Contact her at kristinshepherd.ca and at Dr. Kristin Shepherd on Facebook.

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Yoga Babies

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My Tuesday noon class follows a morning of work for me, work which involves reasonably serious conversations with reasonably serious adults.

Then I whip into my office at 11:30, change into my yoga duds, and drive over to the studio, arriving ridiculously early for my 12:15 class. In fact, when I arrive, they’re still sweeping up Cheerios from the floor.  Moms carry babies on their hips, all of them completely relaxed after a moms-and-tots class.

I love this.

I put my mat down in the back corner, and dream about being a yoga baby. In this dream, my body has no resistance. I flop forward and sweep my hands across the floor. My head turns like an owl. I do somersaults for the fun of it.
 
In this dream class, I laugh whenever I feel like it. I also sing: This Little Light of Mine, or Baby Beluga, or You Are My Sunshine. I dance while I sing. We all do, in this class.

I eat the odd raisin or Cheerio off the floor.  I drink hot chocolate out of one of those sippy cups.I hang out in Child’s Pose when I get tired.  I have a nap if I feel like it. And someone carries me out at the end. I like that part the best.

I am so into this dream that by the time my real class starts, I am about 4 years old.

Do you have a dream class? I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks to all of you yoga moms and yoga babies for the inspiration,and thanks to you for the conversation.

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Release the Hostages

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My lovely man is in the shower. He’s got yoga class in an hour. He’s pretty excited. Me too.
 
I do Vinyasa and Ashtanga classes at the moment. He takes Yin Yoga. You probably know more about that than I do. 

What I do know is that ten years ago I might have spent time and energy trying to convince him that my form of yoga is so fantastic that he’d be better off in my class. With my teacher.  My chanting. At my favorite hour of the day. On my kind of yoga mat. In my corner in the back row.  And on and on into ridiculousness.

I was a little bit inflexible, which defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

I was also chronically bored, which is what happens when I only listen to what I’ve already said 47 times before.

I’m happy to say that at the age of 48 I’m just now learning to let the hostages go.  To let others choose for themselves and to be happy with what that brings me.

What does it bring me?

Hours of discussion about Yin Yoga, for one. It sounds fantastic. I’ll try it in the fall.

The second thing it brings me is the idea that although yoga is about union, it is also an enormous and varied collection of beautiful ways to explore and take care of ourselves.

I can hardly wait to hear what yoga you love and why.

Thanks to yoga for helping me release the hostages, and thanks to you for the conversation.

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Be Bwave

My kids have finally driven me crazy. It wasn’t the baby thing or the teenage thing. They’ll be 23 and 21 this summer. It was them becoming shockingly, mouth-droppingly inspiring human beings that did me in. My daughter is in China … Continue reading

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